Aliana's family would not have been able to afford to send her to secondary school on their own. She wanted to go further in her studies but could not afford to do so until Aniceta helped her apply for and get a scholarship to attend the Kenya Institution of Studies and Criminal Justice in Meru. Aliana is now studying social work and community development.
Aniceta Kiriga (Executive Director, TWWP)
"Alone, you can't make it"
Aniceta was born in Iruma village in the Mara district. At the age of 3, her father died and was sent to live with her grandmother. She attended school until 1979 when she was accepted to the university, however was unable to attend because she could not afford the fees. That year, she married her late husband and in 1986 they moved to Tharaka. In Tharaka, women are to remain at home and care for the family. When Aniceta realized that many of the women there were illiterate and uneducated, she decided to form a small women's group to provide them with more opportunities. Aniceta was elected to be the Meru District Chairlady of the women's national umbrella organization Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO), which means "development for women" in Swahili.
In 1991, she coordinated MYWO's research on female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Meru district. Through the research, they found that 70 percent of female residents were subjected to FGM, and 99 percent in Tharaka. Aniceta left the organization in 1993 since the MYWO's program to combat FGM was not conducted in Tharaka. She started an anti-FGM project in 1995 called the Tharaka Women's Welfare Program. Aniceta initially started by having discussions with community women every Sunday. Then the group grew to 10 women whose daughters had attained the age of circumcision but who did not want to subject them to the practice. They conducted their first Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) ceremony in August of 1996, which was the first of its kind in Kenya.
In 2006, Aniceta was awarded the Head of State Commendation (presidential award) by the President of Kenya in recognition for her work in the development of women. Aniceta has also traveled to Washington, DC to talk about ARP, and is continuing to create awareness about FGM and providing a safer option, ARP. She has been working with the Women's Global Education Project and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to provide opportunities for women and girls and create awareness.