Many children in East Africa are exposed to child abuse, ranging from physical and psychological to sexual abuse, violence and exploitation. In addition, child abuse on traditional and cultural grounds, such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, is still common. Terre des Hommes Netherlands fights against these forms of child abuse, specifically in Tanzania and Uganda. For example, three hundred girls in Tanzania have been saved from FGM by the at the end of 2016. One of them is 16 year old Matiko. Read her story.

Child abuse

On the run from the ngariba

Matiko, 16 years, from Tanzania: "I was fourteen years old and had just finished primary school when my father told me that I would undergo FGM. He said he would allow me to go to secondary school after the ceremony. I refused, but my family continued with the preparations in all secrecy. One night, the ngariba, the traditional cutter, came to our house. I narrowly managed to escape. On the run, I walked all the way to Musoma on foot, a distance of about 100 kilometres.

I would only be allowed to join secondary school after the ceremony.

Vocational training as a tailor

Once in Musoma I found a job as a child domestic worker. It was not how I thought my life would be: I would rather stay with my family and just go to school, but I had no choice. Fortunately, the family I worked for treated me very well. In close consultation with my boss, I could start a part-time vocational training as a tailor in addition to my work, two years after leaving my family. That gave me the courage to call my family, after all this time without contact. My mother told me they were all very ill. I left everything behind and quickly went home to see what I could do.

I keep hoping for a reconciliation with my parents. Despite everything, I still love them.

Rejection and shelter

The illnesses turned out to be a big lie: at home everything  was ready for my circumcision. Once again, I fled, this time to TFGM's rescue camp (partner of Terre des Hommes Netherlands). My parents did not want to accept the graduation ceremony of the camp as an alternative rite of passage. Instead, they have rejected me. Because it is not safe for me to stay at home, I have joined a vocational training with boarding, thanks to TFGM and Terre des Hommes Netherlands. I keep hoping for a reconciliation with my parents. Despite everything, I still love them."

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