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Dignity through Difficulty: Voice of an African Girl Child

“I am Lillian Noeli Koskei, a young woman born in Barpello, East Pokot, Kenya. My tough upbringing was hugely influenced by the rich Pokot nomadic culture – typical rural and traditional tribe.

“At the age of 12, my mother sent me to a boarding school, over 150 Kilometres away from home in a bid to protect and keep me safe from undergoing FGM. I did not disappoint her as graduated from high school top of my class.

“I went on to pursue a University degree in Com- munication and Journalism at Moi University. I spe- cialized in broadcast journalism, grounded in the real life experience of communicating with rural people.

“, I was an avid mentor and human rights activist during my time at university. I carried out campaigns with the intention of bringing change to a society that valued the rights of women less. I equally car- ried out numerous education campaigns to raise awareness on the importance of formal education.

“Over the years, I have supported myself by work- ing as a training assistant at Rotu Primary School and Barpello High School. The training required understanding of tribal norms, human rights and Kenyan laws. This has led me to become a compe- tent and respected facilitator, which influenced my choice of the degree course to study.

“After college, I became a radio presenter with Radio Amani and North Rift Radio. My fluency in Kiswahili, English and Kalenjin, coupled with eloquence and enunciation, made me a much sought-after broadcaster.

“I later volunteered with the Barpello Catholic Mis- sion as a trainer and where I was once again drawn to the needs of young girls who are being forced into practices which are illegal in the modern soci- ety. I worked passionately with World Vision Ken- ya, Samburu Women Trust, Human Right Defend- ers Coalition and Holy Ghost Fathers to help the young girls and women.

“I established and registered a community-based organization called Sauti Dada Africa, which means "voice of the young girl” in Kiswahili. The organiza- tion is strongly dedicated to helping young girls in rural Kenya. We fight harmful traditional practices that solely affect the girl child.

“Female Genital Mutilation has limited girls in my community from enjoying their rights. Our sole re- sponsibility is to rescue girls from FGM and child marriages. Our aim is to create a safe environ- ment that enables girls to strive and achieve their dreams. We empower them through alternative rites of passage trainings which equip them with relevant life skills to face adversities and challeng- es that they encounter.

“Education is a major tool for change. I look for- ward to reaching out to all girls to give them a bet- ter future. My dream is to see their faces smiling! We are the voice of the African girl child!”