TEMBO’s Community Facilitator, Mary Laiser, is a statuesque Maasai woman who speaks Maa, Swahili and English.
Mary is proud to be Maasai. She is proud of the generosity of her people; proud of the respect that is shown towards the older generation; proud of the large group “under the acacia tree” style of decision making; proud of her traditional dress and jewellery.
But Mary feels that stopping FGM is a change that must happen in the Maasai culture. With her conviction and passion for women’s and children’s rights, she works tirelessly at the grassroots level to end FGM.
When asked if FGM (female genital mutilation) is illegal in Tanzania, she replies, “Yes, FGM has been illegal since 1998, but it’s almost impossible to enforce. The idea of FGM is sold to a Maasai girl early. She is raised to look forward to her special time when she will be spoiled with clothing, jewelry and even goats. She will make her family proud when she is initiated into womanhood and therefore properly prepared for marriage. She can join her mother, grandmothers and aunts in suffering the ritual that is sometimes called a women’s secret.”