Nowadays in Velingara, Senegal, several families have already decided to protect their daughters from FGM but do not dare to say so in public for fear of being poorly regarded. Families still do not have the financial resources to let girls stay at school and avoid marriage before 18 years old. With this new project, we aim to support those families opposed to FGM so that their daughters can keep going to school and be protected from FGM and forced marriage.
Since 2002 GAMS supports a project raising awareness of the abandonment of female genital mutilations by a community approach improving life and health for women and young girls from the communities of Vélingara, in the Kolda region of Senegal. An initial project in partnership with CIRE (Coordination and Initiatives for Refugees and Foreigners) and with funds from the Belgian Technical Cooperation has allowed to give support to 4 villages for income generating activities :
- Saré Diallo (micro-credits)
- Saré Bassi (micro-credits)
- Sinthiourou Samba Foula (mill to grind grain)
- Manka Counda (wells and orchards)
In 2010, thanks to funding from WAAF (Women’s Action Against FGM) and (ESC) European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health, a second phase of the project was started on another site in the region, the village of Linkering situated on the border with Guinea. Literacy courses in Fulani were able to commence.
A mission was organised in 2011 to give two day training courses to women and circumcisors of Vélingara about the impact of female genital mutilation and their abandonment. The training was given by the President of GAMS and Maureen Louhenapessy, the coordinator of SIREAS.
- An awareness campaign via radio was conducted in 2013 and partnership agreements were signed between the FM radios in Vélingara (Radio Bamtaare Dowri Fm and Radio Fouladou) and GAMS Belgium.
- In 2015, a projet of filmed video letters (exchanges between the Fulani communities in Belgium and Vélingara) was backed by COCOF International Relations, the municipality of St-Joss and the City of Antwerp (projects north-south). The peer educators of GAMS Belgium are formed to raise awareness in communities.
- In 2016, a mentorship project for non circumcised young girls was launched. This project builds on the positive experience of Women Solidarity in Ethiopia where more than 800 young girls were thus able to be saved from female circumcision. This project consists of financially supporting non-circumcised young girls to cover the costs of schooling (supplies, uniforms, food) and to make a pact with the parents to protect them from female circumcision and from early and/or forced marriages. An initial mission was carried out in April 2016 to identify the villages that wish to participate in the project.