TEDxChange Special TEDxMyeongDong - Youngeun Nam
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Hello, This is Youngeun Nam studying in BUGIL ACADEMY. I came here that I would like to share my story how I consider "The Future We Make" I read a book when I was a middle school student. The book was about how many poor African people were. I just thought I would like to help African people in the future after I read the book. I had a dream of it. And I started to donate some money to UNICEF to help them through saving my pocket money. And at the last year I started to learn Swahili language which is the language used in Eastern Africa. After I learned it I got on an airplane to go Kenya. I was afraid of that. But, I got clear that this was the one that I would like to do through 3 weeks volunteer activity. Ever since then, I started working as a Korean representative at non-profit online based organization “gogo Africa”. And I actively learned what is going on in Africa. And you might ask, “What’s up with this air plane over there?” I met this one lady during my research on African issue. She’s Kenyan, 25 years old, just like my sister. She lived a what-a-drama-tic life. Ok, here we go. She was hiding herself in the church from her neighborhood, was living with her grandmother because all of her family members died because of AIDS. Her grandmother finally decided to let her go to the big city for help. The only thing her grandmother ensured was to find a church wherever she goes. She went to the biggest church in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. The church gave her big money and told her to leave the country as soon as possble So, that’s how she went to the Nairobi international airport without knowing where to go. She went up to the ticketing desk without knowing where to go. There were ten or so Korean business men in a line before her Here she said, “I don’t know where they are going, but just give me the same ticket that they got”. Now what? She flew to Daegu. I mean Daegu! Can you believe it? She didn’t even the country named “Korea” exist before she came here, and Daegu is not even the capital city of Korea. When she landed, she simply followed those ten or so business men. What can she do there? She started asking for church. People were frightened by an English speaking black woman so that they told her to go to the foreigner town, Itaewon, in the capital city, Seoul. Now, she got on the bus to Seoul. Now, she applied to Korean refugee and is waiting for the refugee acceptance. Now, you might ask, “why did she go through all that? What did her neighborhood do to her?” Let me take you back to 2,400 B.C.E. Do you see pharaoh there? Ancient Egyptians believed that gods have both male and female characteristics. They thought that humans should only have one gender characteristics. In other words, they removed or incised the opposite gender’s aspect of the body. What is , “FGM – Female Genital Mutilation”? . For female circumcision, they circumcised the part of the body where called, “clitoris”, and stitched. Back then, only then elite and royal class who could hire doctors practiced. Later, this practice to preserve their humane characteristics in Egypt spread throughout Africa along with prosperity of the Nile culture. Think about it. Isn’t it awful? I mean it’s your body. Imagine a person comes to you, remove part of your body, stitches with thread and goes away. It is awful. The more terrible news is that this is still practiced these days in Africa,not just in some rural areas, but in a wide range of regions. There are enormous masses of people w How would they do it then? The oldest woman in the town visits the house, remove the part of the body with a sharp fragment of the glass, since there is no such thing as a knife or scalp. Next, of course they do not have thread or anything, so they use a thin grain texture to stich back. These days, this amount of women, this huge number of women, have experienced FGM in 28 African countries. Now you might wonder after all my explanation of horrible practice, why do Africans still do this? There are several reasons. First, it’s a tradition. Of course, it’s a long history of tradition from 2,400 B.C.E. However, it was practiced to preserve to be human, not attempting to be a god. When this religious practice spread, spread, and spread out to the broader area, it was misinterpreted and settled down as a requisite of passage. it was misinterpreted and settled down as a requisite of passage.Next, virginity is a big deal here. If a woman is circumcised, it is difficult to lose her virginity before the marriage. Finally, the big word comes up here: marriage. As I have just mentioned, a circumcised woman represent a virgin woman. So, men think that uncircumcised women are naughty so that they do not want to marry them. Yes. Men are always problem. (Laugh). Here are another numbers. What are these percentages represent? These numbers show the illiterate rate of the parents of men who prefer circumcised women. 83 % of their fathers are illiterate. 72% of their mothers are illiterate. What do they represent? I would put in this way. Educated people do know that FGM is horrible so that they do not want their lovely wives, or daughters to experience. However, uneducated or illiterate people might do not see any problem with FGM. They tend to consider it only as a sacred tradition that everyone has to experience. . If you have not learned about these stuff, they could think, ‘well, my grandparents did this, my mom did this, my sisters did this. So, of course my wife and daughters should do it.. I would marry a woman who haven’t circumcised.’ Let me give you refreshment here. Close your eyes. Think about people who come up to you, get rid of part of your body, and stitch with grain texture. FGM is problematic not only because of its painful process, but also its complexes. Let’s see here, a high fever, stomachache, cough, vomit, urethra associative disease. These all complexes make sense, right? Because of these painful and serious complexes, 48% of circumcised girls drop out of the school. It is a repetition of horrible cycle here. Usually uneducated family circumcises their daughters. Theses daughters, again, loose their chances of education because it is too painful to go to school. The cycle of pain and lack of education repeats again, again, and again. Luckily, there are many anti-FGM movements going on these days. Firstly, in Kenya, one of the most developed countries in Africa, some women started to raise the people’s awareness about the danger of FGM. Of course, they were faced a lot of conflicts from their neighbors like “how can you abandon your culture?” However, these courageous women thought, ‘This is not going to happen anymore. We are educated so we should try to stop this practice.’ This is the first “stop” movement. Secondly, British doctors joined the movement. There were so many Africans to immigrated to Britain and continue the practice. They did not stop any matter how many times the British doctors insisted not to. Reluctantly, British doctors suggested Africans to come to the hospital for the hygienic alternative female circumcision after they realized that they cannot stop Africans from practicing FGM. Thirdly, a lot of Western influences, NGOs, and people like me joined anti-FGM movement. Lastly, government intervention took great role in decrease in rate of the practice. According to WHO from 2006 statistics, the rate of FGM in Uganda is 0.6%. The FGM was widely practiced in Uganda even in 10 years ago Then, the government thought, ‘No way, Uganda women should not suffer like this.’ So they have had strict restrictions on the practice. As a consequence, Uganda now has a remarkable rate of FGM, 0.6%. I have briefly explained about FGM and about the people who are trying to inhibit the practice here for last ten minutes. Well, who am I? I am a high school student who wants to reduce the number of women suffering from FGM. In this winter, I am going to five countries in Africa with the director, Hyonjung Kim, here to film a documentary movie about Female Genital Mutilation. I hope and wish to have more people to have awareness about this issue. This is my interest that I want to make a change on. . Another hope that I have is for you to look around to find a topic that makes you nervous or excited about and mark the change in the world. I am a high school student and try to make a change. In other words, any of you here can so do the same thing, or even much better job. Thank you for listening. Again, it was Youngeun Nam. Oh, and if any of you are interested in supporting my film project, please e-mail me. (Laugh). Thank you.
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