Jasmine's Place Issue No. 12 - July/August 2014 - Page 11

topic for the women. They wanted information on FGC and wanted to discuss it in a safe space like the classroom. They insisted we include it in the women’s health module. The module began with human rights education and as the women learned about human rights and responsibilities and then learned about the potentially harmful health consequences of FGC, they began to organize to abandon the practice. Now over 7,000 communities have declared an end to FGC. I have always believed that if you feel you are on a path that can lead to the well-being of people, the methods you use to achieve that goal should be respectful and empathic. There are times when we need to move forward, other times when we need to hold back. If I feel we are moving forward respectfully and always listening to the people we are serving, I am never worried, and will continue on with confidence and patience. But that for me is not courage—just determination and perseverance. I feel that empathy is often forgotten in the world of development. People are outraged about what’s going on in the world – and with very good intentions, they translate their outrage into telling people, “This is wrong!” or “Stop this immediately!” But we are talking about systemic Woman teaching with note board. Microcredit seminar. Kolda, Senegal. 30 th May 2006. change, and that goes deeper than just telling people what to do. As a foreigner, I needed to make sure that I was sparking change in a non- judgmental way. That is why at Tostan we don’t use harsh or aggressive language like “fighting” a tradition that people believe in - as fighting often leads to even more resistance. We prefer to encourage people to make their own decisions for their communities based on their Continued on page 40 JASMINE'S PLACE 11