15-year-old Istar saved by the Galkayo Center

Istar is a 15-year-old Somali girl. A week ago, her family contacted the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development (the Galkayo Center) to ask for help. Istar had been subjected to infibulation – the most severe form of FGM, which leaves girls with their labia stitched together. Hawa Aden Mohamed, the founder and director of the Galkayo Center wrote to tell us what happened to Istar:

Istar was married off to a 70-year-old man who paid 10 camels and a gun for her. She had undergone infibulation. As it happens with many girls who have undergone this type of FGM, the husband was unable to penetrate her. He used a traditional dagger to cut her open. But he did it with so much force that the dagger went deep, affecting the vagina walls and cutting into her cervix. Istar started bleeding profusely, forcing her family to seek medical help. We helped Istar get medical assistance through one of the three hospitals we are working with, and our social workers have been providing her with psycho-social counseling throughout the healing process. Although she is now out of danger, Istar is deeply traumatized. And she does not want to go back to her husband.

This is the work that Hawa does day in and day out, intervening in emergency cases to save lives and help girls recover from the trauma of FGM. Hawa and her team at the Galkayo Center are committed to the complete eradication of FGM in Somalia. While they are making some progress, their resources are extremely limited, while stories like Istar’s are common. Education is key to ending FGM – the Galkayo Center offers schooling to girls in Somalia and raises awareness of the health risks of FGM among government and religious leaders.

Your support is critical to the life-saving work of the Galkayo Center in Somalia and its ongoing efforts to change hearts and minds in the community to prevent the practice of FGM from being passed down generation to generation. If it had more funding, the Galkayo Center would be able to help more girls like Istar.

Please make a much needed contribution to support Hawa’s critical work in Somalia, where it will have a real impact. There is no better way to commemorate International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM. With your help, Hawa and the Galkayo Center can stop FGM and save lives.


Jessica Neuwirth

Click here to see the Galkayo Center firsthand, and to learn more from Hawa about their work.

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