24 April 2013

What's been going on at 28 Too Many

We have also commissioned our Accountant, progressed well with our revamped website, and briefed in our second fundraising brochure.

We had an induction for 6 new team members – courtesy of Ispy Marketing, in a fancy Covent Garden office suite – just before celebrating gaining official charity status!  We now have over 20 in our team, 5 working from Barnet, the rest around London, Oxford, Swansea, Surrey…and of course, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mali!


We have been profiling Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia since September, and carried out an in-depth research project in Tanzania for Tearfundon the Role of the Church in ending FGM, in November/December.  We also have a Researcher couple in Mali, who are out of the country for a while due to the current conflict.  Each newsletter we will share some field stories of how change can happen.  We begin with Uganda.


Ayesha says ‘I had a polygamous father, so was one of 18 children.  I was the only girl not to be cut as I was educated in church on the harm it does.  Many years later I decided to help other girls receive the same knowledge and opportunities as I did, so we started meeting as women to help empower each other’.  ‘Currently there are 20 girls in vocational training who refused to be cut and now have the means to provide for themselves and their family, despite not marrying and ostracism’, says Maryam.  Aiwa states ‘On Pokot Culture Day, 7 circumcisers came forward and gave up their cutting tools and refused to continue practising’.


Meanwhile, closer to home in London, I am called by Hadyah who says ‘I came to the UK with my 1 year old daughter.  I’m married and all the females have FGM.  My husband says my daughter must face it too.  Please help me.  I need your advice and support’.  So, I call and we make a plan.  These stories show there is much to celebrate, and much still to be done.


Sharing facts, changing perceptions


Over the last 3 months we have delivered 7 talks to groups across the country.  These vary from talking to a Church Youth Group on FGM and to a Young Adults Group on the wider issues of FGM, sexuality & genital cosmetic surgery.  We trained a YWAM Community Development School Group on capacity building, FGM & gender issues, and spoke at Restored’s AGM on our FGM work across East and West Africa.  Increasingly, we are addressing groups of health practitioners, and trained Childline Counsellors for the NSPCC, the CathDoc Medics at University of London and a group of 120 Social

Workers, Police, Educators and NGOs on the International FGM scene at a Birmingham FGM Conference. These 7 talks amount to some 300 people trained, who then educate their families, friends and colleagues, who in turn become aware of FGM, to help children be safer; government to be lobbied and funds raised to enable our work in ending FGM across Africa.


Working in partnership


If it wasn’t for our partners, we would not be where we are today!  Once again, CMS in Oxford helped by providing a customised training for 4 of us on Fundraising.  From this we ran a 40 Day Lent Campaign…watch this space!  As I finished my second
year with CMS, I had my appraisal from the Chair of Restored, before we met CMS to discuss my budget and plans for 2012-13.


We have continued to work closely with Restored, as they provide personal accountability for me, and 28 Too Many is a member of Restored’s Alliance.  From monthly Team Days, to joining the Christmas Lunch we have appreciated their support.  As part of the Inspired Individual Scholarship, I have also met and been supported by Tearfund and the Inspired Team.  A group of us from around the world met for an Inspired Networking Dinner and we also spoke at a Tearfund Networking Lunch on our FGM work – sharing by dial up Skype from partners around the world who asked intelligent and challenging questions on our FGM work and strategy!  We also had time to catch up with Tearfund’s CEO, Gender Advisor and Media Team to help shape what we do, now and in the future.




The international circuit develops!


As FGM is a harmful traditional practice that is part of a complex set of cultural
beliefs, we are involved in a range of associated specialities.  This involved attending 3 events in Inter-Faith week, where Baroness Warsi addressed 25 faith groups in London.  We also attended a Fundraising Conference with 300 other NGOs, and a Breast Ironing Conference run by a friend from the Cameroon, where FGM was also addressed.


We were pleased to receive a partial scholarship to attend the inaugural Trust Women Conference and CMS & Inspired covered the rest of the costs.  We helped facilitate the FGM Action Forum, gave 2 key media interviews and were cited in the Closing Action Plan – meaning we need to deliver our research website by later this year!


We have also attended three DfID or Home Office events in preparation for CSW (UN Commission on the Status of Women) and the launch of the Government’s Health Passport/Statement on FGM.  We were delighted to attend the UN’s annual CSW in New York in March, and spoke at 2 side events and lectured students from John Jay University of Criminology.  We also presented to DfID Donors in December (UNICEF, UNFPA, IAC) DfID and 20 key NGOs at a 2 day FGM Forum/Open Space, to help shape anti-FGM policy.  We hope this will help FGM end in our lifetime, and protect more girls from this harmful practice.


Working with the media to spread the word!


From 25 November to 10th December we held our first campaign to mark the 16 Days of Activism to end Violence Against Women. This involved daily Facebook and Twitter posts; a prestigious post in the Huffington Post, speaking on Premier Radio and delivering key talks.  We also contributed as a case study to CMS discipleship material. This all helps bring FGM to the awareness of a much wider audience than we could ever reach as individuals.  That said, it was a pretty intense month!


We have also been asked for advice/opinions by journalists from the BBC, the Guardian and Independent as they prepare FGM stories – and featured in around 15 students’ projects, podcasts, essays or art projects on FGM across the UK!  Our weekly blogs often feature guest appearances by others passionate for the cause!


 Personal fundraiser


Thanks for all who have given since last Spring – I am keen to attract a last few donors to give monthly to my shortfall of as I cease all earned income in March so I can focus on fundraising for 28 Too Many! Email us at info@28toomany.org for details of how to support Ann-Marie or donate on our website by Paypal to donate to 28 Too Many.


Do bear us in mind over the next 2 months as we are involved in some key events:  Do ‘Like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for daily updates!


11th Talk in Northants
20th Talk at New Wine Youth, Ealing
27th Talk at New Wine Women, London; Talk at New Wine Youth