The Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM) which is a humanitarian Non-Governmental Organization based in Port Loko District with support from BMZ has ended two day consultative meeting with stakeholders of Rosengbeh Village, Koya Chiefdom in the Port Loko District and Matotoka Town in the Tonkolili District respectively.
The two day consultative meeting is geared towards knowing the felt needs of the community stakeholders for the construction of Modern Primary and Secondary schools in replacement of two secret society (Bondo) bushes in the two districts.
The organization is also geared towards rebranding the socio-cultural, educational in Sierra Leone with emphasis on Female Genital Mutilation abolishment in Sierra Leone.
The consultative meeting was punctuated by cultural displays and traditional songs by the people of Rosengbeh and Matotoka communities.
Giving the importance of the consultative meeting, the Executive Director of AIM-SL, Madam Rugiatu Neneh Turay Koroma, applauded stakeholders in the two communities for attending the meeting adding that her organization decided to construct the two schools as a replacement of the bondo society bushes.
She intimated that the education has been proven to be a successful agent of change in terms of ending female genital mutilation (FGM), known as Bondo in Sierra Leone.
She said her organization is fighting tooth and nail to help women and girls who suffer depression as a result of certain traditions in the country.
She went on informing the gathering that in the northern part, people have what they call ‘Yanka’ where girls are to keep for three years which has the tendency to destroy their future.
Madam Turay said during their stay in the bush, the initiates are denied educational opportunities and that is why her organization has its focus on the rural communities and replacing the bushes with modern schools.
“I want people to know that I am part of the Bondo society and I am proud it but hate the FGM aspect. We still have the highest infant mortality rate in the world, yet we are scared to talk about FGM which is a contributing factor said Madam Rugiatu Neneh Turay.
She pointed out that rural women and girls are the victims of this practice. She disclosed that the educated hardly involve their children but they are the ones sponsoring the construction of Bondo bushes in communities.
Madam Turay informed stakeholders that it is difficult to find a politician who sponsors the initiation of his/her daughter but are the ones bankrolling the initiation of young girls in rural communities.
“We want politicians to stop the act of constructing Bondo bushes because they are not doing same for the Poro society. They are taking advantage of the high illiteracy rates amongst rural women to promote what will always put them at the back. We must put a stop to this,” Rugiatu appealed.
She cited that the Bondo society is for women and not children, emphasizing the implementation of the two projects that would be commencing in earnest in some communities which are expected to provide the land.
“If we do not start to protect our children at this age for them to know that they are being trained into womanhood through our culture, they will think everything about a woman is pain. The Bondo society is an institution where we meet and interact irrespective of our political alliances, educational background and status. When we are in the society we are all the same and so we want to ensure we bring back the good things that have been eroded,” said Rugiatu.
She maintained that, AIM-SL will continue implementing the project ‘Replacing the Bondo bush with schools as well as working with children and communities that have agreed to replace their Bondo bushes with schools.
She added that the focus as an organisation for now is to stop the cutting and make sure they bring good things back in communities to save women and girls.
She called on everyone to see the need to join the campaign to maintain Bondo without FGM.
The Programs Manger of AIM SL, Alpha Kamara also buttressed the importance of replacing the bondo bushes at Rosengbeh and Matotoka communities with modern schools.
He said the replacement of these schools is part of AIM-SL strides to eliminate the practice of FGM in the country.
One of the women at Rosengbeh Village, Fatmata Kargbo, expressed thanks and appreciation for Madam Rugiatu Neneh Turay for the thought she has for them adding that their support for politicians has not benefited neither the their communities nor they as voters and remains vulnerable.
She said the project will be wholeheartedly embraced which would serve as a conduit to abandon their bondo bushes for schools because education is the only key for the success of women girls.
The Chief of Rosengbeh Village Pa Abu Kanu in his joyful mood ran tears while thanking Madam Rugiatu Turay for the gesture adding that a village of over two thousand inhabitants is without a school.
The Chief said they have been soliciting support from politicians for so many years but to no avail. He thanked AIM-SL for considering them for such educational facility adding that they will swiftly provide the land to the organisation for the immediate start of the project.
“this is our felt need, we have long since yearning for such infrastructure for our children, thank you Madam Neneh and partners for laudable initiative, we are going to identify the bondo bush to replace it with this modern school” the Chief said.
The Paramount Chief of Teneh Chiefdom, in the Tonkolili District, PC Bai Kafare II, said he has no doubt in Madam Rugiatu Turay and AIM-SL for such breaking news.
He said he is a very happy man informing his section Chiefs to immediately identify the land at King Davies Secondary School land for the construction of the school.
“King Davies School is one of the schools that needed urgent help, the students have suffered over the years, I am happy for such a laudable help, we were not dreaming of this, thanks you AIM-SL and Partners” the PC said.
Many others, including Councilor representing Ward 172, Councilor UsifuS. Bangura, Teachers, Students, community chiefs, stakeholders and Soweis heaped thanks and appreciations to AIM-SL especially the Director, Madam Rugiatu Turay for the venture.