16 Wednesday, September 2015

Print sale proceeds support safe house in Kenya

Eunice, 13, helps braid the hair of another resident at Samburu Girls Foundation, a safe haven for victims of female genital mutilation and child marriage. --- Newsha Tavakolian
Eunice, 13, helps braid the hair of another resident at Samburu Girls Foundation, a safe haven for victims of female genital mutilation and child marriage.
— Newsha Tavakolian

Eunice was 11 when she decided she’d had enough.

Only two weeks earlier, her father had circumcised her and forced her to marry an abusive 78-year-old man. Nursing fresh bruises from the beating she’d earned for refusing to “please” him the night before, Eunice decided to run.

With help from an uncle, Eunice found safety at the Samburu Girls Foundation in northern Kenya, which rescues girls already circumcised or prone to such mutilation. To date, the organization has rescued 200 girls like Eunice and placed 125 of them in boarding schools.

Through its membership in The Girl Generation, Too Young to Wed supports initiatives like the Samburu Girls Foundation, which keeps about 30 girls, ages 7 to 16, together in a safe house and uses donations to help the girls return to school. All the proceeds from Too Young to Wed’s inaugural print sale, which runs through Sept. 20, 2015, will be used to help Samburu Girls Foundation and several additional groups that are committed to helping child brides and victims of female genital mutilation and other harmful, traditional practices.

Prints can be ordered for $100 at tooyoungtowed.org/printsale. Each 8×10 archival print was hand-printed and signed by TYTW founder Stephanie Sinclair, whose award-winning work documenting child marriage has been exhibited around the world.

A young girl twirls in a carefree moment during laundry day at the Samburu Girls Foundation safe house in northern Kenya. Proceeds from Too Young to Wed's first print sale will benefit, which runs until Sept. 20, will benefit the foundation. --- Newsha Tavakolian
A young girl twirls in a carefree moment during laundry day at the Samburu Girls Foundation safe house in northern Kenya. Proceeds from Too Young to Wed’s first print sale, which runs until Sept. 20, will benefit the foundation.
— Newsha Tavakolian

The Samburu Girls Foundation was founded by Josephine Kulea, who considers herself one of the lucky ones. When she was about 9, her classmates began to disappear. One by one, they were circumcised and then married off to men 30 to 40 years older. Though Kulea was circumcised—like 90 percent of the girls in Samburu County—her mother resisted the family’s attempts to marry her off young, and she was able to finish her education.

She provides the same opportunity for the girls she rescues, all of whom have endured FGM and forced marriages—and in some cases crude abortions. Some are brought to the safe house by police officers or sympathetic family members. Others find their way to Kulea’s door on their own, with nothing more than the clothes on their back.

Eunice, who has continued her education, says one day she will work to put an end to FGM and child marriage.

“When I become a powerful woman in [the] future, I will ensure that young girls . . . would go to school,” she said, “and spread the gospel of stopping early marriages and female genital mutilation in Samburu.”

A longer version of this piece by Iranian photojournalist Newsha Tavakolian originally appeared on The Girl Generation’s website and was reprinted with their permission.

WAYS TO HELP

Purchase a print during this limited time: Visit tooyoungtowed.org/printsale to support our programming

Share information about Too Young to Wed and the print sale on social media and follow us there:
Twitter: @2young2wed
Instagram: @tooyoungtowed
Facebook: facebook.com/tooyoungtowed
Hashtags: #endchildmarriage #tooyoungtowed

Volunteer: Share your skills and collaborate with TYTW. For opportunities email info@tooyoungtowed.org

Too Young To Wed is a nonprofit organization qualified for tax-exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Each contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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