Choosing the Path Less Travelled
A renowned educator turned activist, Sr Ephigenia Gachiri ibvm has dedicated much of her life to the fight against the harmful practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) otherwise known as the silent ‘killer of joy’. She has made such a vast impact in the way FGM is understood both locally and abroad that she was recently featured in The Tablet as one of the top 50 Minds that Matter. Since 1998 Sr Ephigenia has darted across the country in her ute bringing her message to the most remote and disadvantaged corners of Kenya. Through years of community consultation she has taken a two-pronged approach to combatting this age-old issue, not only by educating parents, teachers and the girls themselves about the dangers of “the cutting”, but also by providing an alternative ceremony to help the girls, without undergoing this mutilation, gain the cultural maturity that the FGM ceremony provides. Fast forward 21 years since Sr Ephigenia started on this crusade. Her tireless commitment is nothing short of inspirational. As a result, on 2 March 2019 the Loreto Abundant Life Centre was officially opened. The Abundant Life Centre is the ultimate product born of Sr Ephigenia’s tireless campaigning to end FGM by providing alternative solutions to this harmful practice. The centre serves the following purposes:
- National training of campaigners across Kenya to work in the villages as facilitators for the Rite of Passage for girls, as an alternative to FGM, and for boys, as a replacement for outdated traditional male circumcision rituals;
- Offer psychological and spiritual healing for traumatised FGM survivors and their families;
- Conduct research on the root causes of FGM, followed by the dissemination of these findings;
- Produce and translate FGM campaign tools such as books, calendars, DVD’s, teaching manuals and pamphlets;
- Become a National Resource Centre for FGM related matters.