‘It’s in the name - SafeHands for Mothers – because being a mother saved me.’

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Over the years, I have received many requests to work with charities large and small.  Although their work was great, I never felt the need to do more than short projects.  But, SafeHands for Mothers was different for me. It pulled me in. It’s in the name - SafeHands for Mothers – because being a mother saved me. For so long, being mutilated made me feel isolated – the anger I felt about being mutilated, confusion over why no one else questioned it – and it was only through the birth of my first son, through becoming a mother, and the love I felt for him which saved me and helped me to find forgiveness for my mother too.

So, when I heard the name, SafeHands for Mothers, and I saw the care the team puts into these films, I knew I wanted to join them. This was where I wanted to invest my time. This is where I wanted to tell my story.

I’ve told this story before – in my book and in my daily work, but I’m grateful to have made this film, Hibo’s Story, with SafeHands so it can go beyond me. My story is not just my own. It is the story of many girls and women around the world and in the UK. Through this film, I hope that we can reach those girls to let them know they are not alone, that there are people who know their experience and can help. Or better yet we can reach their teachers and school administration and help protect them from ever feeling the pain of my story.

This film, therefore, is the story of more than just my past and my pain. It is a sign of my future and my power. It shows that people will listen, that minds can be changed. In the years that I have been speaking out about my own experiences and against FGM, I have always been taken aback by the amazing responses from people. Sharing this intimate part of me was terrifying at first, but as I have done it, I have been motivated by the responses I get. People come to me and ask what they can do to help. They tell me that they are angry on my behalf and that they are ready to act, but don’t know how.

Anyone can influence change in their community. So when people tell me they want to get involved, I have three things I tell them to do:

  1. Talk to your community. Speak with your family, speak with your friends. FGM happens right here and by talking about it within our communities we will be better able to bring it to light.

  2. Look at your power. Everyone has the power to act. Whether it's speaking to your child’s school about their policies around FGM, volunteering for a local charity which fights FGM, or asking your local council and police what they do to combat FGM, you have the power to get involved.

  3. Support the women around you. The relationship between women is a most sacred thing. It is so powerful to know that you have their support and let them know.

Change is happening but it takes all of us to act. Be your bold, brave, wonderful self and get involved!

Nancy Durell Mckenna