Fleeing child marriage and female genital mutilation

Tumaini Daniel is now 17 years old and was born into a traditional Maasai community. Early marriage and female genital mutilation affect almost every girl in her village. Tumaini was also promised to a man before she was born. Girls in the community rarely get to finish school because of arranged marriages. Tumaini’s marriage was arranged after she had finished primary school. Terrified, Tumaini fled to her aunt’s house the night before the wedding. Despite her aunt’s best efforts to protect her, Tumaini’s father came back for her within a week to force her to marry again. BUt again, Tumaini managed to escape and went to live with her aunt.

In the meantime, Tumaini’s aunt sought help and, with the support of the village chief, Tumaini was allowed to live with her aunt and the wedding was cancelled. The young girl’s nightmare had come to an end! But what would she do now? Tumaini had only attended primary school and was suddenly living without friends in a strange city. DSW’s Pamoja Youth Club turned the young girl’s life around. As part of the “My Life, My Rights, My Future!” project, Tumaini attended a four-day training course to learn about her rights and how to start a small business. During the first day of training, Tumaini cried non-stop. She told the other participants about her escape from an arranged marriage and her courage inspired the whole group.

Tumaini still lives with her aunt, but thanks to DSW’s support, she has already started a small chicken farm and recently started attending tailoring school. She has become a more confident young woman who is already campaigning for girls’ rights in her community and is looking to the future with confidence: she wants to go back to her home village and save other girls from this terrible fate. “DSW has given me hope that I can achieve my goals and be somebody,” she says proudly.

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