Brownkey is the first female refugee blogger in Dadaab who writes and also campaigns against Gender Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation FGM. Here’s her story…
Tell us about your work in the camp
I do campaign against Gender Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation. I normally meet with the community leaders and do household visits in order to make sure this message is disseminated to the entire community and at the same time they understand the importance of this campaign.Since I have been doing this at the community level I become friendly with people from diverse cultural activities. However, it came to my attention that young children are at risk of child labor and early marriages too. Currently, I included this program as part of my campaign so as to create awareness and educate parents on the importance of sending their children to school.
So many people who attend my workshops are very much impressed including Aid Agencies, Religious Leaders and the community at large though I am still facing some challenges i.e. insecurity and abuse. Because some people think that I am exhibiting or carrying western ideology but in the real sense I’m helping my fellow female counterparts and the community.
In the beginning I started forming women advocacy groups against the menace of female genital mutilation. I took my campaign to the grass root level and sat with circumcisers and mothers whose girls are victims of the peril. This is a unique method of campaigning, where the perpetrators are involved in the campaign as it makes them feel the magnitude of the destruction they are causing to women. I even organized sessions between the perpetrators and their victims. Then to expand the campaign beyond Dadaab I became a blogger to create a platform for my campaign and gather more support and bring more influential people on board. http://brownkey.org/
My hope is so high and is to become a worldwide campaigner against all the above and other related issues
What other challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?
Girls in particular have been facing discrimination from the patriarchal society where giving girls an opportunity has always been seen as a waste. Therefore I was in tough battle with men while in school and after school. The girls have been subjected to retrogressive cultural practices such as female genital mutilation, early marriages and forced marriages. These cultural practices have contributed to the setback of women in Dadaab camps. However, these challenges never deterred me from my vision and at the back of my mind I believed in education as the only tool that would change my community. On realizing the impacts of these practices on women I felt obliged by the human spirit in me to start advocating for the right of women and get prepared to take challenges in this course to liberate women. Before fully embarking on advocacy campaign I worked with several organizations in the camp to understand well the nature of the challenges women go through in Dadaab and Somali context.
Tell us about the audience of your blog
My target audience has mainly been young people like me. Most of the issues that affect young people in Dadaab are not captured in the mainstream media. A lot of these young people here are on social media and also don’t follow the mainstream media. They say they don’t listen to much radio or read the newspaper, but they read my blog.
Tell us more about the Brownkey Foundation
The conditions in the camp drove me to establish a foundation by the name Brownkey Foundation. The name of the foundation was instituted from my epithet.
I framed this foundation to help the powerless individuals in and outside Dadaab camps. The main areas my foundation focuses on include: Children’s rights, culture, education and the Environment.
What would tradition lose if I was not cut? This question, a title in one of the stories in Brownkey’s blog looks simple but rings loudly deep within. In a country where several communities practice FGM yet there’s a law outlawing the practice, political, religious and community leaders should consider seeking the answer to this question. This is the 21st century.