Kelly Wairimu Davis; Fighting FGM

Kelly Wairimu Davis: Founder of Kelly W Davis Running International Foundation

I’m Kenyan­ American, my father is American Indian and my mother is Kenyan. She comes from a tribe that embraced Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a traditional right of passage thus I first heard of FGM on my first visit to Kenya in 2006 on a trip to meet my relatives.

Wanting to know more about my heritage, my cousins got comfortable with me and proceeded to inform me of their childhood. They opened up about having undergone this particular rite of passage, describing the full procedure and how painful (physically and psychologically) it was and the fact that they did not have a choice in the matter because their consent was not required! The family, community, tribal and traditions dictate the rites of passage of their people. I was horrified, I asked why they did not resist, but I soon realized it was next to impossible to go against your parents and elders will in these situations for fear of being disowned for bringing shame to your family.

Kelly Wairimu Davis

Back in the US, I never forgot the impression on their faces, nor the description of the torture they endured. I began to be consumed with thoughts of this tradition that inflicts such pain and agony to these innocent, defenceless young girls.

When I was picked to compete for Queen of the Universe, I started thinking what charity I would be dedicated to and what cause I’m passionate about. The thought of my cousin’s ordeal with FGM came to mind.

There and then, I made up my mind to play a part in stopping this form of child abuse and to fight for the rights of young girls.

Kelly Wairimu Davis

There and then, I made up my mind to play a part in stopping this form of child abuse and to fight for the rights of young girls.

I decided to start a charity called Running International with the assistance of my co­chair, Dr. Gilbert Omido, Margaret Omido and my mom Cecilia Wambugu­Davis. My foundation is going to focus on stopping FGM and Empowering Young Girls like myself by educating them of their rights to their bodies, importance of getting an education, and offering alternative rights of passage.

Through my research, I feel in order to penetrate and stop this horror, my foundation will partner with other organizations currently in the field working just as hard to stop FGM. Collectively, I hope we will be able to meet the following goals:

  1. Bring about global awareness of the horrors of FGM in most African and middle Eastern countries, in order for the western countries to put pressure on the governments of the countries involved to criminalize FGM
  2. Bring awareness to governments of these countries by addressing their leaders through various channels such as the African Union which meets in Addis Ababa Ethiopia every year.
  3. Through grass roots approach; educate the tribes that embrace this practice on the horrors, medical and psychological effects of FGM
  4. Educate young girls about their rights to their bodies and the importance of education
    Offer safe houses for girls who escape or are put out of their homes and communities when they denounce FGM

This past summer, I traveled to Kenya to jumpstart my foundation. On arrival, what was partially a family vacation quickly turned into an FGM inspired speaking tour as I found myself embraced by the Kenyan media. With the assistance of my manager, Tony Nzomo, I was able to do interviews and appearances on Churchill Show, Afterburn on KISS TV, Str8Up! on KTN, and on Ghetto Radio where I spoke of the fight against FGM.

I also visited several schools and rescue centres where FGM is rampant speaking to young girls ranging the ages of 12­15 years old. While speaking to the girls, I particularly emphasized on the importance of education for young girls and the rites to their bodies. At Kiwanja Ndege Primary school, my foundation has pledged to build 8 pit latrines. Therefore, Running International foundation is planning the first annual fundraising event this coming January. Please visit our website Running International 2014 for updates.

By Kelly Davis

Kelly Wairimu Davis, a Kenyan actress and model based in hollywood. Kelly is also Miss Kenya 2014 in the Queen of the Universe Pageant. Her passion for her country is to help eradicate Female Genital Mutilation. She’s the founder of Kelly W Davis Running International Foundation.