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A Modern-Day Esther

A Modern-Day Esther

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Little Girl with a Dream

A little 4th-grade girl sat mesmerized, listening to her teacher describe a life she had never known and women that she couldn’t imagine. Her people were the Marakwet, a sub-tribe of the Kalenjin of the pastoral communities of Kenya. All the women she knew were never fully educated like the women her teacher was describing in the big city of Nairobi. But more than that–these women had power over their lives, could travel to other big cities around the world, and even could own cars! Her teacher described how their cars could carry heavy luggage and helped them get places much faster. But he told the class one other detail about these women: they were “uncircumcised”. Linah explains, “What caught my attention is the use of a car, and in my naïve mind, I concluded that only those not subjected to Female Genital Mutilation could own cars.” No one could have known that God would use the desire to own a car to shape the entire path of young Linah’s life.  

Escape

As she got older, she held tight to that dream. In order to have that car, she had to be fully educated, and she knew that if she underwent FGM she would be removed from school. They would then be immediately married off and expected to assume adult roles–and she just could not allow that to happen. “Over the years I kept doing hide and seek with my parents to evade the cut, giving excuses of school work, but time caught up with me eventually.” She had put off her parents for so long that she was the oldest girl in the village to still be uncut. Her father was feeling the pressure, no doubt, and thought that his daughter’s uncut status was keeping others from completing this “rite of passage” and that she must lead the others to “face the knife.” So one day, he sent her two brothers to pick her up at school. The old men had read the stars and seen that the time was favorable; Linah should undergo FGM that day. There were dire warnings about what would happen to girls if they disobeyed the social norms. But Linah dreaded the knife more than the warnings; she wanted to live in the big city, she wanted a car, and she was determined. So on her day of reckoning, she made the decision to run away from home. With help from a teacher, she arrived at her place of refuge and escape from FGM, a Word of Life camp. 

Bursting Myths and Making Change

Linah had grown up hearing that an uncut girl would never be married, yet today, she is happily married to a Christian man. Over time, she met women from other communities where FGM was not practiced. She did research and learned about the terrible and unnecessary consequences of it, and the more she learned, the more strongly she felt the need to speak out. It became clear that the place to do that was politics, where major change could begin.

“I ventured into elective politics with an agenda and a mission to bring a law that not only punishes [those who practice FGM] but protects girls and women…I thank God that He enabled me to fearlessly talk about the harmful consequences of FGM and granting me favour before my colleagues in Parliament to adopt a law banning Female Genital Mutilation.”

– Hon. Dr. Linah Jebii Kilimo, BA, EGH

Modern-Day Esther

That law passed in 2011. In 2014, Hon. Dr. Linah Jebii Kilimo, BA, EGH, was nominated to start the Anti-FGM Board in Kenya and it is now a full-fledged government entity. She serves in the government of Kenya as a Chief Administrative Secretary, which is equivalent to a deputy minister, and has been a member of parliament for ten years as a cabinet minister and an assistant minister. She is a joyful, fearless advocate, quick to give God glory for her story, and says with confidence that her achievements would never have happened if she had been subjected to FGM. We praise God for her work, and it is through her that Spread Truth’s gospel-based, psycho-social anti-FGM curriculum has been looked at with favor and officially adopted by the Kenyan government. A real, modern-day Esther, she truly has been used by God for “such a time as this” to protect young women in Kenya.

 

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