The Price of Hope
In their own words, girls in Kimana, Kenya tell incredible stories after being rescued from FGM and child marriage and share their future hopes and desires. The point of view of the Parits, who boldly go against tradition to rescue the girls, and commentary from local activists drive the story. The film highlights the community's extraordinary passion and commitment to improving the lives of otherwise forgotten girls in their overlooked remote community.
Taken to the safety of Hope Beyond Transitional Center, the girls find safe refuge, recover, and receive a quality education. However, as many have never been to school before their rescue, they must first acquire basic learning and essential life skills.
While the film reveals the dangerous practices of female genital mutilation and child marriage, it gives a voice to the rescued girls. It emboldens them to inspire and encourage others in their community and beyond.
Karoki, Caroline Josey (film director)
Karoki, Caroline Josey (film producer)
Kulkoski, Amanda (film producer)
Ramsey, Neena Page (film producer)
Cinematography, Amanda Kulkoski; editing, Alex Newton; music, George Bjorvik.
Distributor subjectsChild Marriage; Child Abuse; FGM; Educational Equity; Girl Child; Human Rights; Grassroots Advocacy; Women Empowerment; Cultural Traditions
- My name's Jacqueline Soila. I'm 15 years old So my village home is Rombo, I was born there and I'm the first born in my family and I have four siblings, two brothers and two sisters. My best subject is science and I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I was about 10 years old Women came one morning they help me, and circumcised me. I never went to school, When I turned 11 years, my father wanted to marry me
- A 12-year-old girl in Kajiado has been rescued from a forced marriage to a 30-year-old man.
- Kajiado County have thwarted attempts by a man to marry off his 14-year-old daughter to an 82-year-old man for 50,000 shillings.
- The act comes in the wake of disturbing reports that up to thousands of young school girls have been abused and are now made young parents.
- More than 50 girls have been rescued from similar circumstances across the country in just the last two months. If there are other girls out there who can hear me, What this girl has shown, is that she saved herself. If the child was afraid, she would not have saved herself. Yet, she did. That's how we were able to rescue her. When she rescued me she took me in, She used to tell me, "The things you have gone through... ...forget them, because you're going to start a new life."
- And that means so much for me.
- These children you rescue, they come the way they are. You go through process, you go through everything like the way you deliver a child, this child you, supposed to make sure she has food, good shelter, education, everything. So they become my children. They're part of me and I'm part of them.
- When you look at the lives of these girls right now, they pass through a very difficult situation, but then you see their face gleaming with joy and hope, and that's what motivates us every day. The challenges are many, many times discouragement, many times setbacks. The cost is high, but you know, you have to keep going.
- When I saw those girls, I felt like crying. They're really bright, but somehow it's like their future was deterred from getting what they wanted to be. But when I saw them, I think they'll still have their better future. They'll still achieve their goals. They have that hope.
- My name is John Parit, right next to me is my wife, my beautiful wife, Dorcus Parit. We are the co-founders of Hope Beyond Transitional Center located in Kimana, Southeastern of Kenya. I remember very well when my wife told me one day, you know, I have a vision of starting a center for girls. I'm like, wow, that's a good thing. Back in 2011 when we were expecting our first boy child, I remember it was a very difficult labor and before she was wheeled into the, to the theater, she told me, remember what I told you that we need to start a center so if if I don't come back, make sure you do what I have told. I've, I have asked you to do, make sure that you start the center and do what you'll do. And that was a very difficult thing for me. And she like made me promise. So she was willing into the theater and four hours later, boy came first and after two hours she came up, she came back and I told her, you know what? Now we know what to do. That was it. We started having cases. The police will bring a child and they'll say, oh, we have this girl who just been rescued from a child marriage from FGM and you know, you guys do you have a place? And so we opened our doors for any girl who will be under duress until one day. I remember very well, we had a girl who had undergone FGM and she was expectant.
- She was supposed to get a baby after two weeks. But the parents, they decide to do for her FGM. So they just are pinching that inside the clitoris. Now when they pinch, now it swell. So when it swell and then now they cut.
- We found that it was really, actually, it was a case of FGM. She was, she undergone FGM just before she gave birth and she died.
- We have 22 communities, which they're practicing the female genital mutilation, Somalia, Samburu, we have Migori they are so many. It brings a lot of infections for those girls. It has bring a lot of problems in their life because it is something, it change their body totally.
- My name is Maloi. I come from Northeastern [Kenya] I am 14 years old. My grandmother circumcised me when I was 10 years old. I was cut severely because I got scared and jumped and a vein was cut. I bled so much. Till today, my monthly periods last like one month Yeah, or three weeks. That is the problem I have.
- I felt pain
- In fact, I bled a lot. In that process as I was bleeding, I did not understand what was happening. I don't know what they did to stop the bleeding. Okay. So sometime when I am alone I encourage myself and say it's not the end of my life. I can still be the person I want to be in my life.
- And that really was the last, the trigger that said, now we have to do something. [Officer]: Little girl, come. [Officer]: Come, let's take you to school. [Dorcus]: Come. Come. [Dorcus]: No one will hurt you. [Dorcus]:I am here to get you. It's OK. [Dorcus]:I'm here for you, OK? [Girl]: Please forgive me. [Dorcus]: It's OK. [Officer]: Don't worry, it's OK. [Officer]: Where is your husband? [Girl]: He is at the well. [Officer]: OK, talk to Madam. [Officer]: Don't be afraid. It's OK [Dorcus]: Relax. I'm here. [Man]: When were you married off? [Girl] Wednesday. [Man]: What grade were you? [Girl]: Four. [Man]: OK, put on your shoes, Madam will talk to you. The belief is once a girl undergoes FGM, irrespective of the age, she becomes a woman. So if you've not undergone FGM, you're still a child. That kind of thought is propagated within the various levels of the community. What propagates it, what what makes it to happen? Why is it not dying away after all these efforts, after all these years, it's still there. One thing I realized, I'm a pastor, I'm also an opinion leader in this community and I belong here. This is where I come from. So I realized maybe there's a way we can be able to combine all these influences we have to help eradicate this issue of FGM. I am saddened. Because things are happening where you are, and you are not informing me. FGM must end. Completely. We decided to sponsor four meetings in a month in different areas. Most of these areas are very remote areas, so these are forums that, you know, we wanted to have people come and they talk. Talk to the government.
- Every month we normally barazas. It is like people on that community come together and we talk. The issue we have in our area. It is true. Let's stop lying to each other. Let us all agree to tell the truth. Right now, some of you know children who have been circumcised. We place emphasis on the issue we educate people it is wrong and against the law. To practice female genital mutilation and early marriages. Do the work. Make sure every child in your area is going to school. Make sure no child in your area goes through FGM. Those are the things we want to hear.
- The whole issue of FGM is really ingrained in the Maasai culture in a way that, for example, the first belief is it cuts down promiscuity. If a woman undergoes FGM, her sensual feelings are kind of numbed. Maasai circumcise, and don't really know why. Many say that it is to remove the girl's sexual desire. Not true. Because a Maasai woman is more mischievous than other women. Firstly, the people doing this are poor. Selling off and circumcising their girls.
- A run from justice agreed triggered run that was cut short by the long arm of the low, literally. All for 50,000 shillings, which allegedly this man preferred to the future of his precious 14-year-old daughter. It must me recognized as a loss, publicly declared as a bad thing. And those participating, arrested and given a harsh sentence, a costly bond, or be arrested without bail. So high levels of poverty cause people to marry off their girls and before they're married, these children have to undergo FGM. If we can't even abide by the President's orders, what is the point of all this?
- We need to make sure the girls and boys have gone to school, they're been educated, they have their own dreams and they can come back to help their families and their sibling and our community it'll change and will change. And this FGM stop and child marriage. So let us continue working together. God bless you.
- Many times we'll receive information from one of our many contacts that maybe there's a girl in distress or there is a group of girls who are just about to undergo, who already have undergone the the rite of passage. So we sit down and plan. Me and my wife even at the center here, we make some certain preparations. Thank you for this opportunity, Lord, to be able to go and help these girls. I pray for this entire team, give them safe travel, watch over them, bless them all. God, we thank even for these families that are involved and every other side of this operation, Lord may it work well for your own glory. Thank you for Dorcus and the entire team. Watch over them and cover them and cover this car and every other person who will be going there by your blood all God, we thank you and we worship you for this, I pray in Jesus' name.
- Amen. Amen. Amen. Thank you.
- Okay. Good luck.
- Okay, thank you.
- We have a girl, one of the girls. So she'll tell us where the homes are, so to, it'll be easier for us. So because, but she'll not come out of the car. She'll be in the car, but she'll just give us the, she'll show us the houses and then we can go in and rescue the girls. Normally when we go, we rescue even one girl or two girls. But this one, this is one which we are going to rescue, even police to rescue eight girls at once. And we now have the names of the cutters, three cutters. So we are going today to make sure they have been arrested.
- It's a very difficult moment, especially like tonight. I know it's a huge operation that has been undertaken and it involves a lot of logistics and anything can go wrong.
- Sometimes it is not easy because like the area we are going, it is the area which we are bordering Kenya and Tanzania. So we can go there and we cannot find them. They can be moved to Tanzania. But my prayer, the operation of today, I hope to be successful. Where are you? OK. Come down, we're late.
- We found that it's very important to have a woman who can be able to go there and get the child out of the situation. I remember the last major rescue operation that we did, the child was just asked come and she came because she trusted her.
- I hug the girl and they're like, it is okay, you are in the safe hands, don't worry my daughter. So when I hug her, she's like, wow, I give her that love. She sees I'm caring, you know, I am holding her. And then I tell her it is okay, you are going to a safe place and don't worry. So by then, when I tell her those words to her like, like wow. So even sometimes when I, I come out with with her, she just hold me like, I'm like, I'm saved. You know. So now it is just getting dark and there's a lot of rain and we cannot go because of the, the issue it has come up because they have just left without us. To go and arrest the cutters. You know, we are living in the border. They can move them to the Tanzania area, but they can move them where we cannot reach them. It is happening in secrecy. Unfortunately, many on our side [Tanzania], are secretive and scared. So they are not willing to some forward. [Reporter]: As of last year, [Reporter]: how many people have you arrested [Reporter]: that brought girls over the boarder? It is not easy to gather that data. It is difficult... but... There are results. My names is Jennifer, I am 15 years old. She was circumcised when she was 10 years. My father had passed away. My mother was left with very young children. My mother had an older son whom she leaned on for help. I was given to my brother. Everyday he would tell her I was getting circumcised and that he will marry me off. Not too long after, I was circumcised. Before I healed, my mother took me to the manyatta. The man I was married to left to find work. When he returned in the evenings, he would beat me. Other times, he would choke me against the wall. Another day he choked me so hard that I couldn't speak the next day. One day he beat me with a large stick. That was my life. He would just beat her over and over. Then in the morning, his mother took him outside. His mother told him that I was cruel, that I didn't even listen to her when she talks. She told him to beat me. The next morning His mother told me to go watch the cattle. I worked until 3PM. Then he broke off a branch. He started to beat me. He beat me and left me. I was bleeding everywhere. My entire body was swollen. In the evening, the goats came home. I grabbed a cup to go milk the goats. My blood was dripping into the cup. Another woman in the homestead She washed me, She put oil on me, as blood was coming from all over my body. She believed it was better if I went back to my birth home. I packed everything that was mine in the homestead. I left on foot. I arrived at 6PM. When I arrived, I was still bleeding a lot because the sun was so hot, and the leaves were still sticking to my body. When I entered, I found the wife of the brother that gave me away. She asked, "Whose child are you?" When I heard that, I started crying. I thought to myself, "I left and suffered so much, that my own people don't even recognize me." I stayed in the hospital for one month. My educated brother said, "She is not going back to that homestead." But the one who gave me away said I had to go back. So I left to go to the forest I went to cry. Sunday evening, I met my friend. I said goodbye, because I was going back to the homestead. She asked, "You're going back so you can get beaten again?" I said, "I don't know what else to do." She asked, "Do you want to go to school?" On Monday morning, I went to the Headmaster. As I spoke with the Headmaster, my friends helped explain, showing the wounds on my body. He said he was going to look for a motorcycle. But when he was on the way, ran into my older brother. My brother told him, "Hand over my child," because he heard I was with him at the school. The Headmaster told him I went back home in the evening. He looked for lodging where I could spend the night We looked, but could not find any. I asked him to do whatever he can, because I'm not going back. He pointed to the police nearby. It was 11PM. An officer opened the door. I told him that I ran away because I was married off. In the morning, they called the Chief. He asked me if I want to go to school. I said yes. He called Dorcus.
- The girl can be rescued and she comes to us very traumatized. She must find processes that are there ready to receive her and to ensure that she's taken into hospital and she finds herself in a safe place.
- Now that girl, when we take her to the center, that is where she get hope. Like wow, there's other girls like them. They know when they came they were like very scared. So like now they've overcome because of, the other girl.
- They literary adopt her.
- They adopt her.
- They walk with her. Yes, through the pain and just to assure them that it's going to be fine. And that's a very good process that we've seen.
- Yeah, it has really helped us so much.
- Now here at Hope, when we have new girls, those who have been rescued from FGM, the older ones who have been here for some years, they impress them with love. There are some who have healed and there's some who have still going through the process of healing. They love each other and they impress each other. They're giving them love.
- The time it takes for the child is actually based sometimes on the level of abuse they have undergone. For example, before even we take them to school, you might find others have to stay like three months at the center. Just just stay at the center where we put them through some programs like life skills, teach them how to cook, sewing, how to clean their clothes and so many other things within this time and to reassure them that everything is okay. That's part of helping them to be able to be self reliant and it creates that environment that they can be able to learn more. This takes like sometimes two, three months for them to be able to be ready, even to go to school. One of the key pillars of the program is education. We wanted to make learning fun. All the children that are coming in this area.
- I remember the first time when we opened the school in my community, people, they were saying, you know, we cannot take our children to this, to this school. This school is for the rescued kids. I say these kids, they're the same with the other kids. These kids, they're very important. Any kid is very important. They have a lot of talent. They're talented in different things. Like some of them, they make a lot of bead work. They make the beads, they make the necklaces, the beautiful things from their hand. Creativity. They, they are so creative. My name is Naserian. I attend Lenkai Christian School. My home is Hope Beyond. I am doing very well in school and I play the keyboard at church. These kids, they're amazing. I have so many, they some they want to become a teacher. There's lawyers, there's some, they want to be like me director. They have a lot of gifts in them. A lot of gifts. I like Hope Beyond because it has taught me a lot. When I came here, I knew nothing, but now I am educated. Now I can knit, and I am doing well in school. I didn't know Swahili, but now I do. I can read. I am headed to fifth grade.
- It was 2015 when I arrived and entered school. I started in 1st grade [11 Years Old] I stayed there one year. I didn't know anything since I had never been to school, but I just stayed and sat for exams anyway. I was at least able to read Swahili and I started performing well. In the third term, I was able to read. this year, 2019, I am now in 7th grade, and am headed to 8th grade.
- The, the way they work, even if you place them with the other children coming from ordinary families, they really many times do very much better than them in terms of academics. So that encourages us.
- How old were you when you were rescued?
- 11 years?
- Yeah. Had you ever gone to school? No. You never attended school? Why? My father refused to educate girls.
- And you find a lot of girls in this community really don't go to school. We found we have rescued many who are like 12 years, 14 years, never been to school in their lives. And so we take, in school there, we have a special class for these girls because we realize they also need to access education and to study.
- If you are a girl, they don't even give you that opportunity to go to school. because they see that as burden you're giving to the family. Maasai have misunderstood. A girl who is educated and one that is not, the 'bride price' is not equal. The good thing here now at Hope Transitional Center, we rescue them from this harmful practices. The child married, the FGM and we are giving them education. A child knows where they will go after they complete their education. When done with primary, secondary, and university, she decides her career. Later she decides who to marry. This is what we provide them. The reason I never circumcised my girls.
- With Night everything had a silver sheen,
- elegant and fine.
- It has been so long in our community there's no justice for this girl, but for Hope Beyond we have managed to to do the justice for these girls because they have their own rights to be children, to have good education, to have good environment. They have that, they need to have. I believe that.
- Sulwe felt beautiful inside and out.
- Our objective at the center was really not a place that children can come and stay forever. It's just a safe place and we council them. We provide the levels of support, we educate them. But as we educate them, then we also start the integration process back to their families.
- We go back to their family. We talked about what has happened. There some cases you get because the parents, they had been arrested, so there's that tension. I have managed to go back and talk to the parents to say, you know, because of what has happened, it is, she's still your your daughter. We urge you to take care of her. She is a child of God. Because we know there are other children you have given away that are yet to be found. It can take maybe one month, it can take sometimes even it take two years. There's one case it took two years to be accepted to the family and we have seen the fruits of that.
- We'd like to hear her opinion.
- To speak for herself?
- Yes. I'd like to go back home after my studies. [Director]: What about you? Me too. [Director]: What would you like? I'd like to go back home, but continue with my studies.
- I still love to go home and see them because they are my family no matter what happened, no matter what they did for me. But they are still my, my family and I still love them and I want to go and to see me. I want them to see me the way that I have changed. And to know the power of educating a girl. And to know that circumcising girls and marrying them off is not an advisable thing. Because we also want a good life And even for my young sisters that I have so that they can go to school, and not go through the things that I did.
- The fight against female genital mutilation in this country received a major boost when Kajiado County became the first county in this country to launch a policy for their education of female genital mutilation. And this policy document is very important in this county and the entire country. It provides framework to completely eradicate female genital mutilation in this county. This helped people to have a reference point that they can be able to say, it is written here that you should not do this and this and this and this and that gives us a lot of strength even as we go to the grassroots level as we fight to be able to have a, something that we can be able to use that has already been ratified even by, by the governor, like in this case by the governor of this county.
- Every county it is different and every community they are different, how they approach things in the grassroots.
- This day was great indeed because it was not just the local organizations that are working with FGM or the county. We had people from all over the world. It was a great international event. And this also comes in the footsteps of what the president himself said.
- Female genital mutilation is a retro aggressive practice whose continued existence in our country in actual fact assaults our individual as well as our national conscience. While once this practice of FGM was rooted in the cultures of some of our Kenyan communities, I think it would be fair and true to say that the practice no longer has a place within our Kenyan society. Earlier this year I committed myself and I committed my administration to doing everything possible to ending FGM in Kenya by the year 2022. In order to achieve this goal, we must initiate community-based programs that are culturally sensitive and encourage change in social norms.
- So the message, it was delivered very well, yes, but understanding of those message it has bring another problem.
- And I think the way people took this directive was we still have time to continue practicing. Yes, the FGM because the deadline is
- When you circumcise a girl, you are interfering with her health because it brings a lot of complication when a girl gives birth.
- The Policy has been passed. We'll accept it, because it is by the Constitution of Kenya. What I'd like to tell my fellow friends and parents, FGM is not necessary for a girl to be complete. My education is progressing well even without being circumcised. That is why I wanted to go to school. If you mess with my education, you mess with my life. Isn't messing with my education messing with my body? I say this does not have to continue in our society for us to progress. It will not strip us of being Maasai.
- Our forefathers started this practice, we inherited it. My view is we will end circumcision of girls.
- Over time, when we are engaging these people, the change has started happening on the ground and we've seen the tide changing slowly.
- When we rescue a girl we don't stop there. It is a journey.
- My favorite things in this center, is how we come and transform, you know yourself, and you know what you want to be, And the people who are here, how they take care of us. The truth is that the Parit family is really helping a lot, and is educating us.
- They have given of themselves, to look every which way for funds, so that the safety of the girls can be secured peacefully. When I used to tell my story, I would cry. I don't anymore. Now it is different. This is a place where people love you.
- All these children who come to us, they look at me as their dad. They don't tell me director or whatever pastor, they call me dad. I have realized that I am the only example of a proper functional dad in their lives. And our marriage has to be an example of proper functioning marriage even to them. They want to see a good functional family. They look at us. One thing I've done for my daughters is to educate them. I have taught them the positive side and for them also to shun those harmful practices within our culture. And also to be able to embrace our Maasai culture and be able to come back even after education, to give back to the community. If we hear of a child, somewhere who needs help, you have to stop everything you're doing and go and help that child. Because they need you at that point of their lives. And that's what count, that's what is important in, in the work that we do here.
- So for the first time we went with the mom [Dorcus] and dad [John] and we went to visit them [Family].
- When, when they heard that I, I was the best girl in school, when they heard what class I'm in, they asked for my forgiveness, and they regretted for what they did. That's because they saw me and they saw that I'm a powerful girl.