Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative was started in September 1999 when I met with Eve Ensler during women awareness creation meeting on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early forced childhood marriages (ECM) which are rampant cultural practices in the Maasai community.
Ensler was moved by what I was doing and the challenges I was facing i.e. walking long distances carrying a wooden model depicting private parts of a woman despite the risk of wild animals. Eve asked me what I needed most so that I could carry out my work more effectively, so I requested for a vehicle to enable me to cover more parts of the district and this would also minimize my risk of being attacked by wild animals.
In 2000, Eve was overwhelmed with the impact I was causing in the community, and the fact that girls had started running way from FGM and early marriage with no place to run to. My house became a small haven at the expense of my security since parents would storm in to demand for their daughters. Ensler asked me again if there was any help she would give to assist the ran away girls, and I said that I wanted a safe place where the girls can run to whenever they are in danger of FGM/ECM. Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative finally was built through the support of V-Day and was officially opened on 8th April, 2002.
Since its inception, more than 2000 girls have been rescued from the cultural harmful practice. These girls are accommodated and taken to school as reconciliation process starts with the parents and the community. Some reconciliation do not succeed because some parents are adamant to accept their daughters back, in this situation the rescued girls continue with their education and remains at the safe house until the parents accepts them back home.
Over 4000 girls have gone through the alternative rite of passage without the cut. This is training where girls are taken through 6 days seclusion where they taught life skills and how to become adults without necessarily being physically cut.
Community outreach trainings have been massively conducted to sensitize the Maa community on the dangers and effects of FGM and ECM and to create awareness on the importance of girl child education.
Over 50 girls have successfully been sponsored through secondary education. Among the 38 girls who went through tertiary colleges and university, eleven of them are permanently employed and are the key role models in their communities. Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative is currently paying schools fees to 65 girls. 42 girls in secondary school and 23 girls in primary school.
48 girls who have said No to FGM and ECM are currently accommodated at the safe house and are continuing with their education
Sision Nchoe (16) who bled to death in 2008 after being subjected to female genital mutilation.
Judith Keiwua and Dorcas Keiwua refused to be circumcised and ran to Tasaru in 2004.They were later reconciled successfully with their parents. Their elder brother and the neighbors organized for them to be forcefully circumcised against their wish. Judy was badly damaged and required reconstructive surgery
Sylvia Salula (9) was rescued from early marriage to a man of 70 years in 2006. She is now in Form Two and a role model her community.
14th February, 2013 women marched along the streets of Narok town in One Billion Raising to protest against violence on women and girls.
Brief information about Agnes Pareyio
I was born and brought up in a Maasai set up where girls and women are viewed as wealth to the husband. I struggled throughout my childhood to go against the culture and beliefs of my community but to no success because my mother would not want her daughter to be an outcast.
I underwent FGM at a tender age of 14 and thanks to my father, she was taken to school. I am now standing tall in fighting for the Maasai girl child and women rights. My exemplary efforts were recognized by the United Nations and I was given an award as the UN person of the year, 2005.