First-hand accounts are the most valuable source of information we have on the success of our interventions. Below are three success stories concerning our work.
"This training is good. It's actually changed my life because before it I had a different idea of what female genital mutilation (FGM) is. Before, when I heard somebody say that FGM is no good I told them they didn't know what they were talking about because it's our culture and it's our people that do it. I used to call these people out and tell them the practice was a good one. But later on, when Wassu Gambia Kafo came to train us, I found out that I had the wrong idea about what's going on. What I've learned here has changed my life because I was a victim myself, as I said in class here. I was circumcised when I was nine years old. I was in year two, but when they took me there they didn't tell me anything. In the morning they said, "We'll give you bananas, you'll get lots of bananas today". So I was happy. I told my friends we were going to eat lots of bananas. Then we went there and I found myself in a critical situation and I suffered a lot. It was horrible for me because the haemorrhaging they were talking about today... that day I was bleeding, bleeding a whole lot. They tried to help me to control the haemorrhage, but it was a really bad day for me. This training has changed me a lot, I've learned a lot about these complications.
I'm a community nurse, close to the community, so now what I plan to do is, when I go back, I'll try to sensitise my people, especially my traditional midwives and the health workers in the villages. I'll sensitise them and the people with influence in the settlements. I'll talk to them and explain the negative impact of FGM.
I feel very proud of Wassu Gambia Kafo because they're helping the nation. You're not just helping individual health workers but the whole nation. By training health workers you're training the whole nation. As health workers we're the ones who work with the community, so if you train us we can go to the communities, tell our stories and pass the information on. I'm happy because you're changing our lives. What we thought before and what we're seeing now are different things. So definitely, Wassu Gambia Kafo, thank you very much."
"I really like this meeting about female genital mutilation (FGM). We need to analyse it critically and listen carefully to your advice to prevent its complications. I'm a witness to them myself, in my own daughter after she was circumcised. She went for two days without urinating and I and my wife tried to force her to open her legs to urinate, but she kept closing them for fear of the pain. All that happens out of ignorance about the effects of FGM and today you've come along to explain them. Now we realise that what we used to do as part of our culture has consequences. So we ought to talk about stopping this practice.
I didn't know about the effects before but now I do and I'll be one of the first whose daughters won't be circumcised because I've seen the consequences. Prevention is better than cure so we should promote dialogue because we Alkhalos are always in meetings in different places. It makes sense to get people involved in this and get the women to promise to start talking about it in meetings, local celebrations and ceremonies in a friendly way.
My role will be to stand my ground and make sure the people in my village and the neighbouring villages are informed, because you can't give training in all these villages. So it will be up to us to explain all about FGM and about its benefits, which have to do with passing on knowledge, singing and dancing, but the cutting has to stop because it causes complications.
"Today, if circumcision was on somebody's mind, that person has changed and if they were thinking of circumcising their daughter they've stopped, and why is that? Because of the information that Wassu Kafo gave to the people of our country which we are thankful for because it's for our future and our leaders' future. I value it, the same as many other people that are here like me. And if God is with me on my return to Jokadou Dassilami, as the wife of the younger brother of the Alkhalo (village chief), I'll make sure to spread this information in Dassilami.
And from now on, if anybody wants their daughter circumcised, they'll have to look somewhere else for a "circumciser", because I, my hands, won't be doing that job ever again."