I turned 26 on November 9th and for once I spent my birthday challenging myself. I decided to take my campaign to GAMBISARA, the village where I came from. Turning 26, I felt like there was no better time to do this. My decision to extend my campaign to my own people felt right and with an amazing team behind me I had no reason to back down.
Journey started as early as 6am on Tuesday morning. Passing through the different regions, I had mixed emotions. Memories of my last visit flashed through me. The last time I visited my village was for my mother's funeral so I had no happy memories going back. Coupled with that, the fear of facing my own people to talk to them about a culture that they hold so dear to them.
No youth organization in The Gambia has ever gone to GAMBISARA before to talk about the issue of FGM because of the hostile and preserved attributes of the people. For this reason everytime I mentioned going back to Gambisara, people close to me looked at me as if I was crazy. Gambisara is a very conservative village in The Gambia with over 99% prevalence rate of FGM.
We went as young people, without knowing what to expect and not expecting much really. On our way, we stopped in Jahaly, where we saw a woman giving birth in the streets. We went to the health center in Jahaly and met with some women and asked them about FGM and people's general opinion. The response we received was some what mixed.
Arriving in Gambisara was like a homecoming for a princess. I was greeted by traditional dancers, and they played the traditional drums for us. School children came to see us and I was very impressed that the girls outnumbered the boys. Gambisara has only one school and still doesn't have a high school which is a big concern for me. We met with women cutters as well as elders.
In Gambisara, men are very protective of their women. We tried engaging women into the issue of FGM and after several roundabouts we were finally able to talk about FGM. However, this was after the men had left for prayers and the women were comfortable enough to talk about FGM. They openly shared their needs and how they feel about the practice of FGM and the work we do as an organization. We also spoke to the cutters and one of them was the woman that cut me as a child
Today was more of an informal meeting with them but overall I think our trip was a huge success. Being able to accomplish what we did was simply amazing. As young people, we went there to know how they feel about the practice of FGM and their opinion and simply told them what we are about and The Gambia we want to see for our daughters.
I believe young people have a huge role to play when it comes to the issue of children and women and in the long run, the practice of FGM will be a thing of the past.
Jaha Dukureh was recognized as a L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth in 2015 for making an extraordinary difference in her community. She's a 26 year old Gambian that resides in Georgia, United States. A mother of three and founder of Safe Hands for Girls
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and L'Oréal Paris to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Women of Worth program, honoring women making a beautiful difference in the world. The ten 2015 Women of Worth honorees are pursuing their passions to accomplish the extraordinary through philanthropic efforts in their communities. Each received $10,000 for her charitable cause from L'Oréal Paris. To learn more about Women of Worth or to submit a nomination beginning Spring 2016, please visit womenofworth.com.