Did you know that the female clitoris has 8000 nerve endings, which is double compared to its counterpart, can you imagine being deprived of a sensation that is intrinsic to our anatomy? 4 million young girls and women in Kenya can, as it is 'culturally' a rite of passage to womanhood. This is just one example of the physical and sexual trauma women endure in this part of the world. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Australian woman Brittany Pratt, an advocate to this cause was part of pioneering the Fikia Dada Rescue Centre in Kenya that houses local young women suffering from trauma and serves to educate the community in sexual awareness and wellness.
“Sometimes miracles are just good people with good hearts”
Since 2014, the Whitsundays dual qualified Hairdresser & Barber travelled to Africa on 5 separate occasions to volunteer with different community projects. She’s backpacked through 11 different countries in Africa but for her, Kenya always feels like home. When asked by her Kenyan friends Nila and Margy to help with fundraising for the centre in early 2020, she put the scissors down and jumped on a plane to Kenya. She made this decision only one week before the pandemic hit with the high risk of borders shutting (which they did), there she spent the next year volunteering at the centre.
The extremity of risks women are exposed to out of basic survival in these areas was highlighted by Brit when she told us she had girls in the Centre that have exchanged their bodies for a bag of rice, a bar of soap, even a sanitary Item not knowing that it puts them at risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and violence such as rape.
“Talking about rape seems to be taboo, but if we are going to make a difference, we need to acknowledge that there’s an epidemic. Only then can we proactively work to reduce this scourge,” - Mike Rowley, Blow the Whistle
The appalling levels of rape in this country are believed to be under-recorded as campaigned by the director of Blow the Whistle, Mike Rowley who collated research and found according to the statistics, it is speculated that every 36 seconds someone is raped in South Africa. That works out to 100 people every hour and 2,400 women every day. Rowley said “Talking about rape seems to be taboo, but if we are going to make a difference, we need to acknowledge that there’s an epidemic. Only then can we proactively work to reduce this scourge.” Raising awareness on topics of this nature aren’t pleasant yet the issues are prevalent in society. Providing aid for victims of sexual trauma and providing education on sexual health is what Fikia Dada is founded for and is making a difference to these needed communities.
“According to the statistics, every 36 seconds someone is raped in South Africa. That works out to 100 people every hour and 2,400 women every day.” - Mike Rowley, Blow the Whistle
These girls have gone through hard and tough times with no one to shield them. The rescue tream provides them a beacon of hope, with care and love they are taken in and given shelter, food and counselling and given a foundation where they can thrive into mature ladies.”
Naturally, Pleasure Spot was intrigued to learn more about Brit and the rescue centre, which was an eye opening and inspirational Q&A:
‘’Girls in our Centre who have exchanged their bodies for a bag of rice, a bar of soap, even a sanitary item not knowing that it puts them at riskof pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and violence such as rape’’
What inspired you to travel to Africa?
I was only 21 when I booked my first overseas trip to Africa. I'm not sure what it was but I always had a pull that I needed to go to there. Most of my friends first trip overseas was to go partying in Bali or Europe but mine was to a 3rd world country to help those in need and immerse myself in a totally different culture. I remember when I was younger, I would always see the advertisements on TV for world vision and I'd get really upset. My mum would tell me I'd be only 5 years old and I'd be questioning her why is it that the people on these ads don't have food or why can't they go to school? I couldn't get my head around it apparently.
I am a pretty chill and calm person, I don't get embarrassed or humiliated by much at all and am pretty open about everything. Family and friends say I've always lived life differently, taking risks and doing the opposite of what society tells me to do. All I'm doing is just being completely true to myself.
‘’Most of my friends first trip overseas was to go partying in Bali or Europe but mine was to a 3rd world country to help those in need and emerge myself in a totally different culture’’.
Tell us about Fikia Dada?
Fikia Dada is a Registered Community Based Organization in Kenya originally starting in 2015 as education sessions in schools on sexual education and menstrual matter. We rented a house in 2020 to accommodate young women, which is where the Fikia Dada Rescue Centre was born. We are currently in the final transition of expanding into an Australian Registered Charity/ Not-for-profit. Our mission is to home young women who have suffered trauma; allowing them time to heal, raise their babies without judgement and have a chance to reform their lives. With the help of Fikia Dada, these girls are able to complete their education and to learn life and professional skills that will enable them to earn a living to eventually support their young ones. This will eradicate poverty and reduce the common cycle of having more kids that they cannot support. A huge thing we promote within Fikia Dada is Sexual Health, Sexual Education & Menstrual Hygiene. These topics are all kept quiet within Kenya (most of Africa and developing countries actually) and it is taboo to be spoken of. Can you believe that most girls even miss school because it's that time of the month and they do not have access to basic essentials such as sanitary items. Read Pleasure Spots recent post on menstrual cycles here - Let's Talk Periods.
‘’A huge thing we promote within Fikia Dada is Sexual Health, Sexual Education & Menstrual Hygiene.’’
Everyone always asks me why I do this, why do I put so much time and effort into this as a volunteer. My usual answer is why wouldn't I do this? This is my passion; this is my calling. Alongside Nila and Margy (Kenyan founders of Fikia Dada) - We believe everyone deserves the right to have access to essentials and an education no matter the circumstances. Just because these girls were born female in a country with certain cultural traditions or just because a young teen fell pregnant due to lack of education, resources and/ or poverty does not mean she can't live a full life.
We imagine in 5-10 years time, all of the girls currently in Fikia Dada have now finished their education. They are working their dream job. They are supporting their children. They are healthy. They are happy. They are safe. They are no longer in poverty. They are spreading light around their communities. They are educating others. They are empowered.
This is the ultimate goal and we know with the support of the community we are creating; We will achieve it.
‘’Sexual Education is not part of the curricular system in Kenya and is considered cultural and religiously sensitive. This is the stigma we are trying to break’’.
We couldn't agree more with this quote from Kasia Gospoś. Everything we do at NCWGB is to help and support other women.— National Council of Women GB (@NCWGB) January 13, 2022
“Amazing things happen when women help other women.”
– Kasia Gospośpic.twitter.com/7R5doNnPYk
A humorous incident involving either the target language or culture?
Every day is a laugh at Fikia Dada. The questions the girls ask me are so funny, yet so sweet and innocent. They are insanely curious about our culture and other parts of the world. "Brit do you really use a machine every time you wash your clothes? You just put the clothes in and press a button? Brit, do they feed you on aeroplanes? Do they have toilets on there? Do you think if I went on an aeroplane one day, they would give me chicken and chips?" "You can really just go to a supermarket and buy anything you want? That is so crazy!". "How come people don't grow their own vegetables in your country? Wouldn't it help you save money?". "Do you use a knife and fork when you eat? That is so silly, why don't you just use your hands?".
Talking about sexual education can also be a bit of a giggle for the girls and of course they get shy and afraid. Slowly they are becoming more confident and prouder to be strong, independent women!
Most embarrassing or humiliating moment in cross-cultural contact?
Being the only Mzungu (white person) in the village for so long I basically thought I was Kenyan by the end of my 14 month stint. I can speak a little Kiswahili, I would take myself to the markets, would try bargain for clothes at the second-hand stalls, I would drive myself into Nairobi on the insane roads, that have no road rules, I witnessed some of the most insane corruption I have ever seen before. At one point when I was worried about my visa expiring and still no planes to get back into Australia, I was told by government officials to marry a Kenyan to stay in the country as it would only be $16. They even offered themselves to be my husband.
What are your plans for the future?
Well firstly we are honoured to have the opportunity to team up with Pleasure Spot! We are completely different brands however we are promoting the same thing and that is all things Sexual Health, Community and Female Empowerment.
We are so grateful to have this support and we can't wait to see the direct impact we can create together. It has been an incredible journey so far. 8 years now for me! And it's only just the beginning. Once all our paperwork and legalities are finalised on this side of the world and we are set up as an Australian Registered Charity, the sky really is the limit! These girls have gone through hard and tough times with no one to shield them.
In Australia, I am a dual qualified Hairdresser & Barber however I have also worked in the Nightclub Hospitality industry for 12 years. I have worked my way up to managerial roles and have years of experience in both industries, which have all led me to be able to guid the operations of Fikia Dada. My years of leading teams and everything I have learnt through my careers so far is now serving a much higher purpose being aligned with my passion for community.
It makes my heart so happy knowing that we are creating change and direct impact. These girls are beyond grateful to receive support and an education, and I am beyond grateful to be a part of it. I'm now 29 years old and I'm 6 months pregnant with my first child. Our lil man is due in August and we are so excited, "Brit, we hope we have taught you everything you need to know about becoming a mum" says all our girls in Fikia Dada. They are the best!!
"It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" pic.twitter.com/WztVhxyuIB— NelsonMandela (@NelsonMandela) May 9, 2015
‘’We were honoured to have the opportunity to team up with Pleasure Spot! We are completely different brands however we are promoting the same thing and that is all things Sexual Health, Community and Female Empowerment. We are so grateful to have this support and we can't wait to see the direct impact we can create together’’.
Just like many prepubescent women in westernised civilisation at the tender age of 13, Brits mum sat her down and spoke with all about the menstruation cycle and the do's and don'ts with sex, to educate and serve as a safety preventative. From Brits experience at the rescue centre, this type of knowledge sharing is not something that happens in Kenya.
When she told the girls in Fikia Dada how freely Sexual Education is spoken about in Australia/Western Countries they could not believe what they were hearing. "Brit, you can say the words vagina and penis to your mum? That is crazy!","So, you're telling me in your classroom the teacher talks to you about HIV?", "I never knew anything about pregnancy until I was 6 months pregnant and I noticed my stomach was much bigger.”
Youtube Video Fikia Dada (Brit speaks in this too) embed code -
Fikia Dada is a Registered Community Based Organization in Kenya, currently in the final transition of expanding into an Australian Registered Charity/ Not-for-profit. If you can donate to a needed cause, please click on the following link - Fikia Dada Rescue Centre - Donate
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