News April 2021



FAWCO Target Program 20192022
Promoting Well Being and Healthy Lives
for Women and Girls
"Sadly, however, little girls are still cut, damaged and killed, all because of this cruel tradition that has no place in the world. While every action that saves even one child is good, we should broaden our campaigns and now include college and university students who are the parents of tomorrow" - Edna Adan Ismael

SDG 3: 

April 7: World Health Day  [WHO]  


Dear FAWCO Friends,

What an amazing Biennial Conference we had! The Target Program was center stage on Friday with Dr. Jasmine Abdulcadir, an OB/GYN working at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University Hospitals of Geneva and the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, as our guest speaker. The theme of her talk was Countering Myths and Taboos about FGM and Female Sexuality. We also used the opportunity to introduce a new series “Portraits of FGM,” which will be written by Martha Canning. This was followed by a roundtable discussion, led by Julie Lehr and myself, during which we provided an update on the Target Project. And then came the very special moment when Julie announced that the FAWCO community has raised $94,000 to date! Thank you very much for all the support. 

You asked a number of important questions during the Biennial Conference that need further clarification. Martha and I have endeavored to address questions in the summary that follow in this Bulletin. We embedded a number of links that will take you to further reading.  

Please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any other questions or if you are interested in organizing a workshop or discussion on the Target Program and health and well-being education for women and girls. The Target Team uses the following hashtags, which make it easier for you to find us on social media:   
 #TargetHealth #endfgm #femalegenitalmutilation #ididnotconsent  #humanrights #fawco     


Tharien van Eck, AWC Antwerp
Target Program Chair
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Martha Canning, AWC Amsterdam
Target Health Education Chair

Stay Up To Date

April 13                  Join the Target Team, the End FGM Canada Network and Dr. Angela Deane in a discussion on the Medical Aspects Associated with FGM; you can register here. 

April 16 - 18             Become a champion of change in supporting S.A.F.E., the Target Project, and join the FAUSA community at this year’s LUNAFEST® for the premiere of seven new films made by women, about women, giving a voice to women’s stories. Grab your tickets and popcorn and enjoy an at-home screening of these remarkable films through the 20th LUNAFEST film festival; you can register here.  

April 27                   You are invited to join the FAWCO Target Team, Tanzania Development Trust, Crowd2Map and Hope for Girls and Women to a session to learn more about the important role of the Digital Champions and mapping of Mara Region, Tanzania; you can register here

May 6                     Join the Target Team and Beth Wallace in a discussion on The Psychology of FGM and the Power of Female Sexuality; you can register here.

May 24                  Join the Target Team, the End FGM Canada Network, Tanzania Development Trust and Hope for Girls and Women in a screening of In the Name of Your Daughter to celebrate International Day to End Obstetric Fistula; you can register here.         

You can show your support for our Target Project organization, Hope for Girls and Women Tanzania, by following them on social media. With a quick “follow,” you can keep up to date on the lives of the girls who are being saved from FGM practices every day.


A Day in the Life of Hope for Girls and Women Tanzania

Safe Alternatives for FGM Elimination (S.A.F.E.), a project of Hope for Girls and Women Tanzania (HGWT), was announced as the 2020-2022 Target Project during the FAWCO Interim Meeting on March 21, 2020. It was a very joyous moment when founder and director Rhobi Samwelly and the girls joined us via Zoom for an introduction into their work and lives. A recording of the session can be viewed here

The history of HGWT dates to 2014, when a first safe house was started with the support of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church. Rhobi, in partnership with Tanzania Development Trust, set up a new NGO in 2017 with the aim to continue advocacy work in the community, management of the safe houses, provision of  vocational training centers and to partner with Social Welfare and the Police Gender Desk. 

Who is Rhobi Samwelly, the Founder and Director of HGWT?

Rhobi grew up in a small village in the Mara district of the Serengeti in rural Tanzania. Rhobi’s father was from the Kuria tribe and her mother from the Maasai tribe, two of the more than 120 tribes found in Tanzania. Rhobi’s mother informed her at the age of 13 years that she would be “cut.” Rhobi questioned her mother, to which her mother replied that the family will choose a “good cutter” and that she would not die. Rhobi pleaded with her mother not to be cut, but her mother was adamant that it was to be done. Her mother told her that it was the Maasai tradition and that there was no other option. Rhobi contemplated running away, but realized that she didn’t know anybody in the local town and that her dream to continue schooling would not be possible. She eventually underwent the process of cutting and almost died as a result, a moment that became a turning point in her family with the decision that no more girls would be forced to go through female genital mutilation (FGM). Rhobi continued to finish school, became a teacher and returned to her community with the vision to “free societies of gender-based violence, including FGM, child marriage and wife battering. The mission is to protect human dignity and improve the respect for women and girls in Tanzania.”

Support Team 

Rhobi is not alone in her fight against FGM. She has the support of permanent staff and volunteers at both safe houses, as well as dedicated members of the Police Gender Desk, social services and local health authorities. The Digital Champions, although not included in the FAWCO Statement of Agreement, is an important group of women who not only map the area, but also act as the eyes and ears of HGWT in the villages in which they work and live. They act as important persons of confidence for girls who want to flee from gender-based violence, including FGM. The support from reformed cutters also needs to be highlighted, as these women play an important role in society. The struggle that cutters face is described so aptly in “Severing the Connection,” a poem written by Mary Adams, AWC The Hague.

The Girls of HGWT 

No description of HGWT would be complete without talking a little more about the girls of HGWT. The number of girls in the safe house varies dependent on whether it is the cutting season or not. Gemma Romain, in her blog Female Genital Mutilation: A Cut or A Blessing?, provided more insight into the practice of FGM or cutting. Rhobi, where possible, strives to reconcile girls with their parents after the cutting season. Four hundred and thirty-four (434) girls were accommodated at the two safe houses over the December 2019/January 2020 cutting season; 383 girls reconciled with their families during 2020 and 292 during January 2021 after a series of smaller Alternative Rites of Passage ceremonies.

There are  currently fewer than 120 girls at the safe houses; it is unfortunately not possible to reconcile all the girls because of the ongoing risk of FGM, child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence, and girls being orphans with no family to support them. The current pandemic prevents us from doing a site visit at this time, so we will bring them to you by telling their stories. We are pleased to present the first story, Portraits of FGM: Rosie M, written by Martha Canning, Target Health Education Chair.

Impact of COVID-19 

The impact COVID-19 has been significant. The outbreak of the pandemic resulted in the earlier closure of schools; increased social distancing in the early days of the pandemic resulted in an increased risk for girls to be cut and therefore larger numbers of girls who needed to be rescued and accommodated at the two safe houses. Regular sources of income (from tourists and the tourism industry) diminished and eventually dried up completely. Plans that HGWT had in place to become more self-sufficient and sustainable had to be put on hold. The FAWCO Foundation decided, in view of the circumstances, to release $20,000 earlier than planned. To date, $80,000, has been released to HGWT. A breakdown of the use of the funds can be seen in the 2020 Annual Report, as well as the S.A.F.E. Interim Report – January 2020 .

Asante ("Thank you" in Swahili) 

Your ongoing support of the Target Project is highly appreciated, and in the words of Rhobi: “We wish to extend a huge thank you to FAWCO, The FAWCO Foundation, FAUSA and its members around the world from myself, the extended Hope for Girls and Women Team, and the girls for whom we are all helping to create better lives. In 2020 you’ve shown just how much of a difference acts of generosity can make when we do them together. With your support we’ve made incredible progress in the midst of a difficult year, but our work isn’t over yet. You have helped make this possible in 2020, both financially as well as working with us to develop goals and objectives that will help ensure that our two-year partnership delivers lasting benefits.

Thank you for your support so far; we look forward to working closely with you in 2021.”   

Target Project Fundraising 

Greetings From Hilton Head, SC!

As you can see, I am no longer greeting you from Amsterdam. My husband and I moved back to the States in February and are now living the Island life. It’s quite the change!

The Biennial…. What a fantastic weekend we had!  After a year of not “seeing” each other, it was a great opportunity to catch up with friends, listen and learn from incredible speakers, attend interesting sessions, visit the Expo Booths and learn more about all the facets that make up FAWCO and The FAWCO Foundation. And what a  fun-filled Foundation Night!  Congratulations to Lauren Mescon and her Team for an amazing and successful evening! One of my highlights was spending time meeting and talking with the participants who stopped by the Fundraising Expo Booth. I learned so much about your Clubs and the things you do to support the Target Project S.A.F.E., as well as your local charities in the cities you call home. I will share some of the ideas you provided over the coming months. In the meantime, if you are hosting an event that you would like to share either with other FAWCO Clubs, whether to support or just to give them an idea, please email me at  I will happily pass them on!  After all, sometimes all it takes is planting a seed for a great idea to blossom!!

If you were unable to attend the Biennial weekend, then you missed our BIG reveal of the amount that we have raised in our first year of support for S.A.F.E!  You may remember when we  announced the Target Project, we set a goal of $140,000 for FAWCO to raise and contribute over the course of our 2 year commitment. With a lot of determination and creativity during these unprecedented times, we have raised an ASTOUNDING $94,000!! There are no words to express the level of gratitude that the Target Team feels for each and every FAWCO Club and member.  You are all truly appreciated! AND while we are getting closer to our goal, we are a long way from finished! The Target Team will be adjusting our sails and aiming higher in order to make a greater impact on the girls of HWGT that we support through the Target Project. If you would like to provide information to your Club about the ways money raised can impact the girls, please click here to see a simple breakdown of how even $5 can make a difference. Also, please be sure to check out the Club Donor Wall to view the ever expanding list of Clubs that have donated.

Are you looking for a way to support the FAWCO Target Project as well as female filmmakers? Please make plans to attend FAUSA’s LUNAFEST® screening the weekend of April 16. It will feature the premiere of seven unique short films by women about women. FAUSA/FAWCO members can purchase and gift tickets for only $20 with discount code FAUSA-LUNA.  For more information on the event and how to purchase tickets, click here.

Finally, if you missed the chance to get your Foundation Night and Target Charms, it’s not too late!! Both are available by emailing Lauren Mescon at

Till next time, I hope that everyone has days filled with sunshine, health and joy!

Julie Burke-Lehr, AWC Amsterdam
Target Project Fundraising Coordinator


FAWCO United Behind One Issue... Health
Circles of Health: Learn ~ Grow ~ Share

From the Health Team: you are invited to a series of workshops that have been curated with a holistic mindset with the view to create overall health. We are partnering with amazing women worldwide to engage and inspire you. Because you matter. The workshops will help you reflect on what you need to refill your inner resources, find the meaning of happiness and provide tools to be the remarkable person that you are. Full details of the workshops starting in May are here.

Support FAWCO's Advertisers


The world's largest counseling service. 100% online at 

Supporting These Businesses = Support for The Target Project
These FAUSA member advertisers have banded together to pledge 5% of their profits from their services and sales to go to the FAWCO Target Project, from any completed transactions with FAWCO/FAUSA members or their friends and family.
         Bemer Logo
Mention the Target Program when you place your order or when you make
contact to secure the 5% donation to the Target Project.
Join the conversation in the FAWCO Facebook Group