By Elias Folarin
My experience with Savera began in August 2019. I was informed of this project through an individual close to me. Joining a Youth Group has always been of great interest to me as it would provide the opportunity to meet new people, which would place me out of my comfort zone and, ultimately, boost my confidence. Through the project we aimed to uncover the truth behind harmful traditions such as forced marriage and, particularly, FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and the horrific and appalling effects they have on individuals.
During the course of the project with Savera I was given the opportunity to meet an individual affected by FGM, who was kind enough to share her story filled with pain and regrets; whilst listening to her story clear sentiments of helplessness and isolation were evoked, she informed us that her family had previous experiences with FGM and it was clear that she was stripped of the choice to choose whether she wanted it or not; an option which would ultimately shape the rest of her life, unfortunately in a negative way. This implies that rather than being beneficial to the individuals affected, they are merely a hindrance to them.
During the project we were asked to write poems which reflected the thoughts and feelings of individuals affected by FGM and their loved ones, this required us to go in depth into the mind of a victim which, emotionally, drew us closer to them and reinforced our quest to contest these harmful and coercive traditions. Noticeably, our decision to portray the negative effects of FGM through a performance was an important one as it enabled us to capture the visceral meaning behind the message of our project. By using visual means to efficiently display our project it is possible to gather the attention of both the younger and older generation which is indispensable for our quest to end harmful traditions such as FGM.
Through my experience with Savera, I reached the conclusion that such harmful traditions are the by-product of a lack of knowledge and the fear of social exclusion which families must be dreading when thinking about rejecting these cultural methods. In conclusion, our aim, when crafting the project, was to ultimately witness the abolishment of FGM and other harmful traditions, which can only be achieved by spreading awareness and trough the education of the younger generation, which is our future.