Amref Health Africa congratulates Ms Nice Nailantei Leng’ete for having been selected to participate in the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.
Nailantei will join thousands of young leaders from the sub-Saharan Africa and the United States in a six week leadership training and later participate in a three day interactive session with U.S. leaders in business, government and non-profit sector Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit hosted by the U.S. President Barrack Obama.
Nailantei, who has been working as a project officer under the Amref Health Africa in Kenya Alternative Rite of Passage project for the last three years, continues to play a key role in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C)to ensure girls and women in her maasai community transition to womanhood without undergoing the cut. She also acts as a role model to help the girls and escape early pregnancies and marriage and realise their education dream.
“I personally have seen too many women and girls, too many friends, have their dreams taken away from them. Traditional harmful practices have impacted their lives. They’ve had to go through the horrors of bleeding so much from genital cutting that they died, being called cowards when they cry, having difficulties when giving birth and being forced into early marriage. And this needs to change,” she said.
Having escaped from the forceful cut at the age of 8, Nailantei has been educating her community including maasai cultural elders, Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), mothers and girls, chiefs and church leaders on the effects of FGC despite facing the challenge to convince the young maasai men referred to as morans. With the support from some of the elders, Nailantei managed to slowly challenge their traditional mind-set and get the morans on board to accept the new rite of passage. The elders recognised her efforts and awarded her the Esiere, a black walking stick used by maasai elders to symbolize leadership.
As an Amref Health Africa FGC ambassador, Nailantei has taken this message to the global arena. In 2013, she spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York about her spirited effort to stop female genital mutilation in Kajiado County and at the TEDx Talk in Netherlands and continues to be a change agent in her community on sexual and reproductive health rights.
To date, the Amref health Africa #StopTheCut campaign has rescued over 9000 girls in Loitoktok, Magadi, Samburu in Kenya and Kilindi in Tanzania.