My name is Michael Bangura. I am the founder of the Anerdan Elementary School and the International Junior Secondary School in Allen Town. The Desert Flower Project has brought many changes into our community, especially concerning the issue of female genital mutilation. The community is heavily influenced by people from rural areas. The majority of them can neither read nor write. Most of the women in our community have been part of the Bondo Society. Many of them worked as cutters themselves.
Before 2014, before the Desert Flower Foundation project started here in Allen Town, the sound of the drums of the Bondo Society could be heard regularly here. Many young girls have been cut. Through the project of the Desert Flower Foundation times have changed! People have understood and accepted that the Desert Flower Foundation works against FGM, and at the same time supports girls in their education.
Most of our students come from very poor backgrounds and were saved from FGM and forced marriage through the project. Currently we are not supported by the state. Therefore we started a campaign here in the Anerdan School and many parents immediately have been interested in becoming part of the Desert Flower Project. They registered their children to receive support. On the one hand, they can now pay the school fees and on the other hand cover the basic needs of their families. We have gained a great reputation and more and more children can visit our school. The project now gives many more girls the opportunity to attend school.
As a result of this development, great progress has been made in the fight against FGM in the community. Even many women, who themselves came from the Bondo Society, now bring their children to our school and want to be part of the Desert Flower Project. They now do understand that education is more important for positioning their girls in the society than through the Bondo society, as it had been before. So we can clearly see the changes and notice that the community is now on the right way. However, it will need more time until the important postition of the Bondo Society in our community belongs once and for all to the past. But it's good and important to see that so many people in Allen Town have already joined our campaign against FGM!
The sound of the drums that you could hear for your welcoming were originally the sounds of the secret Bondo Society. But since the families have decided to accommodate their children in the Desert Flower project, this sound and the attention of their parents now apply to the Desert Flower Project. Instead of continuing to beat the drums in the bushes, they are now drumming in public for the Desert Flower Project. It is their way of presenting their commitment to the Desert Flower Foundation, making a statement against the cruel practice of female genital mutilation and taking a new path that gives their children the opportunity of education and protect their children's rights.