The Inter-African Committee-USA (IAC-USA) celebrated a successful camp last Saturday evening in a closing dinner at the Embassy of Cote d’Ivoire in Washington, D.C.  The dinner was held to celebrate the closing of a two-day summer camp, Vacances San Excision (Holiday without Cutting).

The unisex camp, which ran from August 13th through the 14th, was opened to all immigrant and non-immigrant children in the United States.  The purpose of the camp is to demonstrate to parents and people in the community that summer vacation can be enjoyable by both children and parents without the presence of female genital mutilation/cutting.

 

Speaking at the dinner Saturday night were the President of IAC-USA, Madam Fatoumata Kande-Kouyate, the Ambassador of the Republic of Guinea, His Excellency Mr. Mamady Conde, Executive Director of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, Angela Peabody, Miss Guinea North America, a survivor of FGM/C and the son of a FGM/C survivor.

IAC-USA Dinner - Guinean Ambassador Speaks

IAC-USA Dinner – Guinean Ambassador Speaks

The Guinean Ambassador addressed the President of IAC-USA, “Madam President, the goal that you assigned to yourself and your commitment is the yardstick of the challenge of this thorny issue.”  He continued, “Indeed, I cannot teach you the staggering statistics of the United Nations, that reveal the acuteness of the phenomenon of female genital mutilation on our continent, where nearly 3 million girls are at risk of being potential victims each year, while nearly 92 million other girls with ages exceeding 10 years are already affected in their physical and privacy.”  His Excellency moved the crowd in the room when he emotionally said, “Born in darkness of ignorance on the bottom of societal, cultural or religious pressures, this practice is harmful to women, nowadays needs to be banished from all civilizations with the evolution of the beliefs acquired; I was going to say clichés.”  The Ambassador said that the international community has tirelessly been involved in raising awareness to help combat and banish the practice of FGM/C.  He congratulated IAC-USA and all of their collaborators and partners for their outstanding work.  He ended by assuring IAC-USA, “I am and will always be by your side, to win the bet of this wonderful odyssey that you drive with self-sacrifice and proven leadership.”

IAC-USA Dinner - Mrs. Kouyate Speaks

IAC-USA Dinner – Mrs. Kouyate Speaks

Madam President of IAC-USA, H. Fatoumata Kande was brief and pointed in her speech.  She thanked His Excellency the Ambassador of Ethiopia, Mr. Girma Birru who hosted their first event in 2012 at the compound of the Embassy of Ethiopia.  She also expressed gratitude to His Excellency Ambassador Daouda Diabaté of Côte D’Ivoire for allowing IAC-USA to organize their closing ceremony at his Embassy.  In addressing the Guinean Ambassador and the women of the Guinean Community, she said, “Your Excellency the Ambassador of Guinea, Mamady Condé and the women of the Guinean community, I thank you for your support and commitment in the defense of the rights of women and children.”  She continued in closing, “Facing the serious consequences of female genital mutilation, the child marriage and forced marriage within the African immigrant population during the holidays, Inter-African Committee in the USA has established a huge awareness program for stopping these practices and taking that opportunity to teach our children positive traditional values.”

In certain African societies, the men generally keep quiet about the practice of FGM/C.  However the room was packed with as many men as were women.  The son of a survivor of FGM shared the touching story of how his mother was not only a victim of female genital mutilation but she was a child bride as well.  A survivor from Nigeria shared her personal story of what she encountered as a child with FGM/C.  Angela Peabody expressed the sadness of the news about a ten-year old girl who lost her life only a few days before in Guinea as the result of FGM/C. She reminded the crowd, “We continue to struggle with the consequences of FGM and it is even more reason why the work we have before us has to continue.”  She said that she and her organization will continue to appeal and urge the President of her native Liberia to ban the practice of FGM/C in that country.  She reminded them that little girls are still running for their lives from their would-be circumcisers or they are dying at the blades of their excisors.

As the evening progressed, a convincing skit was played out by actors from the Guinean community, demonstrating how the excisors take the girls through deception to have them cut.  They also showed a skit about the frustrations of a husband who marries a circumcised wife, and she has no physical sexual feelings.  On display were beautiful prints handmade into bedspreads and matching pillowcases, which may be purchased to assist IAC-USA in their campaign against FGM/C.  To purchase any of those items, visit their website at www.iac-usa.org.

Among the guests of the evening were also representatives from Equality Now, Voice of America, the President of the Guinean Women’s Association, the Vice President of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, Amie Jallah and several other partners and collaborators of IAC-USA.

IAC-USA Dinner - Angela Peabody Speaks  IAC-USA Dinner - Miss Guinea North America Speaks

IAC-USA Dinner – Angela Peabody Speaks  IAC-USA Dinner – Miss Guinea North America Speaks

IAC-USA Dinner - Angela and Amie

IAC-USA Dinner – Angela and Amie

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