Tears of joy flowed freely down Sylvia Keeiz Kosikil cheeks as she embraced her kindred. She had just returned home to reunite with her family after 12 long years at a rescue center.
Kosikil, 20, ran away from her home and her people at Ewaso Ngiro area of Narok South Sub-County in 2009. Back then she just wanted to break free from what was a forced circumcision that her father had planned. She was to be married off shortly after.
Determined not to undergo Female Genital Mutilation, she masterminded an escape that took her to a church where she hid for days before goof Samaritans secretly secured her a placement at a nearby Tasaru Girls Rescue Centre.
“I was only ten years old then but I had learned in church that FGM was not a good practice and it could cause harm to my body. This is what caused me to flee and seek refuge in the church,” She recalled.
After the rescue, Kosikil says she was received well at the center and was offered all the assistance she needed in order to settle in her new home amid plans to have her enrolled in school.
“I had never been to school before. Instead, I was spending my life grazing livestock and helping in domestic chores. My father had vowed never to take me to school,” She narrated.
The young adult remembered how she was taken to Siana Boarding Primary School in Mara in 2010. Luckily, she didn’t have to begin from the scratch. Struck by her brightness, the teachers enrolled her in Class three and that’s where she started off her education.
After Primary school education, Kosikil joined Maasai Girls Secondary School. She would later sit her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination where she scored a C+ (Plus).
“I am too excited that I have gained myself a grade that will help me join a nursing College. I have always dreamt of being a nurse and am looking forward to joining Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) to undertake the course,” She said.
The bubbly girl is especially grateful that Ms. Agnes Pareyio, the proprietor of Tasaru Girls’ rescue Centre offered her assistance. She admits that had Pareiyo given up on her, her academic journey would have aborted.
“I surely do not know where I could have been if it were not for the rescue centre. I wonder what kind of a person I would be today. I thank God for the rescue center that has saved many girls like me,” She said.
Mzee Musa Kosikil, her father, could not hide his joy as he embraced his child to welcome her back home after many years.
“I loved this girl too much and I thought the best I could give her is to let her look after my cattle, sheep, and goat so that when she comes of age, I will marry her off,” He confessed with regret
Realizing her daughter was back in his arms a better person than she would have been had he succeeded his marrying her off at an early age, Mzee Kosikil couldn’t hold his tears. Uncharacteristic of old men from the community, he wept amid promises to never ever stand in the way of her daughter’s dreams.
“You are welcome home, my daughter. I receive you with open arms and assure you, I will protect you so that no harm will befall you,” He vowed.
The Rescue Centre proprietor, Ms. Agnes Pareyio, recounted her times with Kosikil from the moment she was delivered to the center. Back then Kosikil was a young girl to comprehend the repercussions of FGM.
Pareyio who is also the Anti – FGM Board Chairperson, describes Kosikil as a very obedient and Godfearing girl. She says the girl she took in has grown to become a mentor of other girls.
“We have come to reconcile the girl with her parents so that she can start her life afresh. The reconciliation process has taken some time but we are happy that the family is ready to take her back,” Said Pareyio.
One of the neighbors, Isayia Banson, expressed admiration for Kosikil describing her as a good example to other girls in the community having said no to FGM.
Isayia owns up that the community has now learned the value of educating a girl child. He now agrees that just like the boy child, girls have equal rights.
“This is a lesson to our community members that exposing girls to early marriages and FGM does not help them. The best thing you can give to them is education just like the boy child,” said Isayia
Kosikil is now regarded as an inspiration to young Maasai girls. Her story shows, that though young, they have a role to play in ending the retrogressive practices.
President Uhuru Kenyatta made a firm commitment to put to an end the female genital mutilation by the year 2022.