A teacher by profession, and activist by passion from Samburu County, meet, Moses Letitoiya. His dedication to championing the rights of girls and women, particularly in the face of harmful practices like FGM, child marriage, and teenage pregnancies, reflects a deep commitment to creating positive change in his community.

Samburu County is one of the most affected counties, facing staggering statistics in FGM, child marriage, and teenage pregnancy. In 2014, the FGM/C prevalence in Samburu was estimated at 85% (KDHS, 2014), and data collected between 2016 and 2017 suggest a prevalence of 74% (UNICEF, 2017). Interlocutors all reported that the practice has been changing over the last decade, with some people abandoning the cut, opting for a less severe type of cutting, or cutting in secret, especially around the urban center of Maralal (Samburu Central) and, a lesser extent, in rural areas and in Samburu East and North.

Moses’ involvement in a drama club and later volunteering at a local foundation in Samburu allowed him to witness firsthand the challenges faced by girls and women. His experiences, such as rescuing a 9-year-old girl from an abusive marriage, fueled his passion for activism. Moses’ reputation as an effective activist grew within his community, and his work became well known. 

Worrying statistics highlight the harsh realities that girls and women face, emphasizing the importance of activists like Moses who stand up against harmful practices. His decision to join Y4C (Youth for Change) further demonstrates his commitment to being part of a collective effort to eliminate the triple threats of FGM, child marriage, and teenage pregnancies. 

Moses’ involvement with Y4C not only allows him to share his valuable experiences but also provides a platform to collaborate with like-minded individuals. The challenges faced by the group, such as resource constraints, underscore the difficulties in reaching remote areas. Despite these challenges, Moses and the team persevered, spreading their advocacy efforts across Samburu County. 

The positive impact of Y4C is evident in the community’s response. Moses describes the group as a “transformational force” that has ignited a spirit of accountability and action. Community members actively participate, suggesting solutions and committing to continued advocacy even after the group’s engagement concludes. This reflects the sustainability and lasting impact of Y4C’s work.

“Y4C is a transformational force towards the elimination of these issues. There is a positive reception, the community members are taking action to address these issues including giving suggestions, and committing to continue advocating for these issues even after our engagement is over.” 

Moses acknowledges personal growth through the development of advocacy skills and being part of a team dedicated to addressing social issues. Letitoiya exemplifies the power of grassroots activism and collective efforts in bringing about positive change in communities facing significant challenges.

Written by Lynn Obwoge

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