Summer Update from 28 Too Many Executive Director Ann-Marie Wilson


4 September 2013

As we all return from our summer holidays, here is a round up of the last four months at 28 Too Many from Executive Director Ann-Marie Wilson.

New FGM research – and time to party!

After a year of secondary research and undertaking in-country FGM research in 15 locations in Kenya, we were delighted to launch our first Country Report. It has received positive feedback and featured in a podcast by The Lancet and on the News and Women’s Programmes on Premier Radio.  We were pleased to celebrate all this, and the re-design of our website with a London party for many of our Board, partners, donors, supporters and 28 Too Many team.

Travel to Devon & Durban


May saw two special trips to help progress our work to end FGM.  I visited Ottery St Mary for 4 days and delivered key talks to two Church Services;  Mother’s Union; Women’s Institute and to a Women’s Breakfast on the work of 28 Too Many.  I also briefed school teachers on FGM – which led to a spontaneous request to deliver three school lessons then and there to year 10-14s.  Some had just completed AS in Religion and Ethics  - what a memorable day for them!  The response from pupils was very positive who instantly ‘Liked’ our Facebook page and took our talk seriously as they could have friends in Exeter or Bristol affected by FGM.

Three days later I was repacking for sunny weather and 8 days in Durban with the Violence Against Women Cohort of Tearfund’s Inspired Individuals Scheme.  Eight of us (now including two men) met to discuss the work we do across Africa, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Sri Lanka.  We shared our work, and gained network assistance from our colleagues and mentors as we prepared to launch and disseminate our Kenya research.

UK weekly talks on FGM

It is a key part of our weekly work to speak to groups on 28 Too Many and FGM, and this spring has been no different.  We spoke to a CMS Conference in Llangasty, Wales on our work for Tearfund in Tanzania, sharing how FGM is practised by Christians.  This meant I could also visit St Marks Gabalfa in Cardiff.  I also spoke to a CMS group in Northampton over a good fish & chips supper and delivered a talk to UN Women which led to an FGM survivor disclosing after decades of silence, even to her children.  

We often have groups ask us to speak and this Spring I visited the national Soroptimists meeting in Birmingham and Zonta in London, whose groups I met in New York.  Both groups fund amazing good work against FGM around the world.  We also spoke to Galactic Orchid, a group of astronomers who donated the proceeds of their cake sales to our cause.  I think our talk was quite a change from their usual lecture- and I learnt as much about microwaves as the astronomer that followed me learnt on FGM!  We were also delighted to speak at new Wine Youth and New Wine Women Conferences, this time to around 1300 women.  Here, a year ago, we had received £9000, and could start our charity. How good it was to say ‘Thank You’.

Partnering with other charities

With the announcement of the DfID grant for £35million to fund FGM, we have attended various official meetings to discuss the bid.  We have also had opportunities to meet other key stakeholders such as Action Aid, Christian Aid, World Vision and Save the Children, which have helped us link with their African networks.

Stories round the cutting season

This Spring I heard stories from three women from West Africa who all had FGM as children.  I had the privilege of hearing them recall their experience, as we see if we can gain media coverage for them to tell their hopes to readers – to help FGM end.  As before, in the last eight years I have never met a woman who would choose to have FGM, having experienced it, and all want to us to share their story to help it end for others.

Other stories flowed from our Uganda research that launched in July, showing that FGM is still high (4.5%) in the NE area of Uganda – where the community is remote, has limited education and is traditional.  In fact, the prevalence is higher than many others state, as having had a researcher in-country for 2 years, we have obtained much newer data.

An FGM true life ‘story’ featured in the double episode of BBCs ‘Casualty’ programme, helping a UK audience to see that FGM is still very present in the UK.  We shared in the Summer Cutting Season awareness raising initiatives by launching a Twitter campaign that engaged several hundred activitists.

We also joined others in Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park to educate and raise awareness.  This was further helped by Angela & myself running (in nearly 30 degree July heat and 28 Too Many T-shirts!) to fundraise for 28 Too Many.  We’ve raised £1400 of vital funds – so thank you SO much for all who have given. It’s not too late to still donate or sponsor Ann-Marie & Belinda on their extreme ‘Mudder’ 10K & Obstacles run in September. 

Mission Sunday and the Mother’s Union

The Church calendar gives a diverse cycle of events in which 28 Too Many gets involved!  After our 40 Day Lent Campaign, all too soon we were involved in Mission Sunday at St Barnabas, where I gathered with many others involved in full time work.  I also spoke at our Seniors Club on my time at the UN in New York, and was pleased to preach at a Sunday evening service on cultural taboos, including FGM - you can listen here. A committed group attend a 28 Too Many Monthly Evening and I continue as a core member of Justice Matters.  With them we attended the If…Campaign in Hyde Park and led an evening on Refugee issues.  I also continue with the Bishop’s Global Development Group, and was really pleased to become a Mother’s Union member in East Finchley –with a number of male members welcoming me to the fold!

Camping, cruising and time to chill

One year on from the Olympics, I celebrated with other Games Makers – as I  myself am now a full time volunteer who has embraced the sporting legacy by taking up running, which has been a good balance to the anti-FGM work.  The team and I have just taken some holidays – mine being camping at New Wine, a week at retreats in Sussex/Kent and a week in Norway.

 

A taste of things to come!

Sept

7th Wolf Run in Warwickshire, Belinda & AM

11th 28 Too Many Evening, North London

26th Sept – 2nd Oct Presentation on FGM at ACWW 27th Triennial Conference in Chennai, India

27th 28 Too Many Board meeting

30th Completion of Ethiopia Country Report (launch early Oct)

Completion of Tanzania in-country research/report

Oct

4th – 5thCMS Talks in Harrogate & Sheffield

7thBishop of London’s Committee

14th – 17th   Presentation on FGM at the The SVRI Forum, Bangkok, Thailand

17th28 Too Many Evening, North London

Nov

23rdRestored AGM

25th – 10th Dec16 Days of Activism (VAWG)

30thCompletion of Tanzania Report (launch early December)

 

Special Appeal

28 Too Many has achieved amazing growth in 15 months and has made a good impact on ending FGM in Arica & UK via it’s 30 volunteers.  However, we need regular funding to run the charity. A small monthly donation would make a huge difference to us so please consider setting up a standing order – available here. There are many other ways to give and please email donate@28toomany.org for details. Thank you for your continued support of what we do to end FGM.