I just returned from Kenya, Africa. While there, I visited several Maasai villages to photograph and interview the women.   One of the villages that I visited in Samburu has an active project to educate young girls in the health issues of the practice of female genital mutilation, which has been a cultural practice for many centuries.

I visited the Namayiana village and talked with Malian Lechudukule,  Chairperson of the Namayiama Village Women’s Self Help Group. She told me that the Namayiana Village elders collectively made the decision to end female genital mutilation.

The village holds workshops to inform young girls about the health dangers in this practice and to help them celebrate an alternative Rite of Passage for the girls that attend.

This project started in 2013 and is supported by the Pastoralist Chlld Foundation. (

The current population in Samburu County, Kenya, is 224,000 and the FGM rate in Samburu County overall is 91%. The Namayiana Village population is 200, with a total number of 75 girls. Approximately 95% of girls ages 12-18 in Namayiana Village had previously undergone FGM, and historically, 70% of girls ages 12-16 have been married, resulting in a 93% girls dropout rate from primary school as a result of early marriage. These statistics are consistent across all villages in Samburu County, Kenya.

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Malian Lechudukule, and village women
Namayiana Store and Samburu women
Welcoming ceremony
Schooling for Pre- Schoolers
Joyce Leimao. Marie Plakos, Village Elder