The foundation

Hope for Girls, founded by a group of mutual friends of Belgian journalist Annemie Struyf, focuses on educational opportunities for girls and the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya.

Situated in the heart of Kuria in western Kenya, the Visa Academy acts as a refuge for girls escaping the threat of FGM and providing educational opportunities. This small-scale project is led by a fantastic couple: headmaster Tobias and his wife Amina. Kenya has a “fairly good” reputation worldwide regarding genital mutilation of women and girls because there has been a legal ban on FGM for 20 years. But the daily reality looks very different from the official figures. In the southern province of Kuria a majority of girls is circumcised despite the legal ban.

The circumcision of a girl immediately leads to the termination of education, immediate marriage, health problems, increased risks during pregnancy and childbirth and an increase in the risk of infection with HIV/AIDS. Hope for Girls supports a shelter – a refuge – for young girls who want to escape genital mutilation and has started an education program, giving young girls the opportunity to go to school, study and ultimately achieve economic independence. This makes studying a fully-fledged alternative to circumcision.

In addition to the refuge, we focus on:

  • prevention and awareness about genital mutilation
  • developing a school where circumcised girls are welcomeeducation and sensibilization of parents
  • a change in mentality among boys and men

The Board of Directors consist of four members: Michel Vanholder, Monique Van Nieuwerburgh, Annemie Struyf and Kristin Robeyns. Johanna Laurent takes care of our communication. They all work voluntary.

The Foundation has been formally in place since January 5th, 2006 with registration number is 878.447.935. The official decree and Board of Directors membership has been published in the Belgian Gazette.