Reporter Ronnie Dahl traveled to Africa, to help give hope to girls for a better tomorrow

(WXYZ) - Action News Reporter Ronnie Dahl recently traveled to the other side of the globe, where young girls are being forced to marry men old enough to be their grandfathers. But now, because of the Suite Dreams Project, a  local non-profit organization, some of the girls are being offered hope for a better tomorrow.

At an orphanage in Chemolingot, Kenya, they sing with joy, but their eyes tell a different story. 

The kids are Pokot, a proud tribe living in Northwest Kenya. A tribe with traditions, including forced marriage and FGM, female genital mutilation, a form of circumcision that causes a woman a life time of pain and health complications.

"They believe when a girl is circumcise, she is an adult and she is ready to get married," said Rebecca Chebet, an advocate against FGM. "Now girls as young as nine are getting circumcised because their father wants a dowry."

The horrifying stories motivated members of the Suite Dreams Project to visit the orphanage in Kenya.  They traveled thousands of miles, along with their teenage daughters, and discovered a world where water is scarce, shoes are a luxury and a simple soccer ball can provide hours of entertainment.

"It's really kind of eye-opening because we take so much for granted," said Emma Ponicall. "I didn't know that FGM was going on, and that people had to walk six miles to get water." said Lauren Boos.

The women didn't make the long journey to the remote place to just witness the need, they came with a gift.  The Suite Dreams Project helped raise money to build the "Hope Dorm." A safe haven for rescued girls, wanting to escape their destiny.

"Most when they come here, they are running from abuse, forced marriages and forced circumcision," said Chebet.

The dorm will offer 64 girls a place to sleep, food to eat and an education. 

By American standards, the classroom next door to the dorm wouldn't be a fit learning environment. There are no chairs and no desks. Just a dirt floor and a chalkboard. But for these kids, it's a place to learn and the key to change.

While traveling with Chebet to visit members of the Pokot community, one teenage girl told how she has decided to stay in school and get an education, but not her friends. Around the age of 12, four of her friends stopped going to school when they were circumcised and married.

The Hope Dorm is an opportunity for some girls to choose a different path. A simple building, erected in the spirit of tearing down barriers and building dreams. A dorm that is not just a gift from metro-Detroiters, but also a gift to them.

You can find out more about the Suite Dreams Project at www.suitedreamsproject.org

Information regarding sponsoring children in Kenya will be available in the coming days at www.nochild.org

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