Sunday, August 18, 2013

FGM in children-YA literature

It's been three years now since I'm working intensively on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In 2011 I founded a collective of women in Cape Town where we worked at a writing project focused on human rights. It was a great experience, not only professionally but also humanly. Some of the women were immigrant from other African countries and while we were working on our schedule, one of them came to me and opened her heart sharing with me her experience of being mutilated when she was just 12. She asked me weather FGM was an issue we could eventually work on, but surely there was an obstacle: how to sare this with all the other women fo the group? She just did it, if she had shared this with me she could do it also with the others, and  after her revelation other five women (also immigrants) told their own story of mutilation. It was done! They managed to break a huge wall, the wall of fear, of prejudice. I'm sure they recognised the power of word, how imagination can lead you to unexplored places inside you and how this can generate an immense sense of consciousness which is exremely important to start making a change on something. Their change was to say NO to FGM, if not anumore for themselves but at least for their children and the future generations.
In march 2013 I came in Italy where I toured all over presenting the project and the performance which was the result of the work I've done in South Africa on FGM. It was an amazing adventure which will continue with a film documentary next year. During my stay in Italy I was automatically interested in finding a well compiled bibliography of books dedicated to chidlren and YA on this theme. Guess what? I found in Italian only one book:Il gatto dagli occhi d'oro by Silvana de Mari, a gynecologist who is also a children's book writer who wrote this book out of her experience working in Ethiopia. So I had to go around and search for other books  and found these ones.

Thank's to author Mitali Perkins I found: "No Laughter here" by Rita Williams Garcia and "The fattening hut" by Pat Lowery Collins. Then I found "Me, the Bud" by Margaret Nyarango.

No laughter  is the story  of a friendship. American Akhila and Nigerian Victoria who hold on their relationship through pain and sufference. Victoria belongs to a traditional Nigerian family which culture requires that teen girls undergo female circumcision, an horrible practice that more than 2 millions of girls in the world undergo every year.
The story is set in the USA and this reflects a very important point about how the immigrant communities  bring their customs all over the world.
Female Genital Mutilation is a tabu. According to the traditional  cultures where it is practiced, FGM is a secret no one can share with others. But once Victoria shares with Akhila what she has undergone during the summer school holidays back in her own country, beeing ill, having lost her laughter, feeling tremendous pain (in her body and in her soul),  even though it will remain a secret between the two of them, something changes in Victoria's life. On one hand she feels ashame, on the other hand someone, a part from her family, can "understand" why she can't laugh anymore. The story turns up with the two friends  who join together writing a "letter" to  raise awareness  on FGM for the  World Wide Web, so that other girls around the world who happens to have access to a computer can  reflect and start saying NO to FGM fighting for their rights.

For Educators and Parents, to know more about FGM here some books to read:

However Long The Night... by Aimee Molloy
Possessing the secret Joy by Alice Walker
Warrior mask by Alice Walker
Female Circumcision... by Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf
Beyond the dance by Violet Barungi & Hilda Twongyeirve

About FGM in the past adopted in the Western as a custom

The Rape of Innocence by Patricia Robinett

In ITALIAN I can address children and parents to read this story:

Silvana de Mari - Il gatto dagli occhi d'oro - Edizioni Fanucci 2009

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Inspirational Youth!

After a while away from this blog, I'm back again and for the occasion I have a nice story to share with you. It's what I like to call an inspirational story which may be good to many young girls and boys who want to feel committed in real life.
I'm mother of three teens and sometimes I've been asked how can they get  involved in something which can make the difference in their daily life. It's an endless topic, the world is full of causes to sponsor, raise and support, doesn't matter as long as someone feels deeply committed and ready to invest time, skills, and share for the good. Here an inspirational experience...

Christina and John Bowllann

In this post I'm proposing you an interview to John Anthony Bowllann and Christina Bowllann, brother and sister who happen to have a wonderful mother Amy Bodden Bowllann . 

KABILIANA – John and Christina, would you like to tell a little bit of your story?

John: My name is John Anthony Bowllan. I am attending Deerfield Academy for my high school career but this year (junior year), I will be heading off to France for School Year Abroad (SYA). I have a great interest seeing how the different countries all around the world interact with each other and how they work together. All of the cultures differ significantly from one another so it will be great seeing the world from a whole other perspective. When I am not studying, I love playing basketball and training for wrestling at the gym. But my favorite sport that I play with the family is tennis. We all know how to play well so it is fun competing with my mother and sister.

Christina: Hi! I am Christina Bowllan. Currently, I am in the 8th grade in an all- girl school called The Hewitt School, and it is on the Upper East Side.  When it comes to sports I love to play basketball, soccer, tennis and badminton.  In my free time I love to make videos about what I am doing and right stories.

KABILIANA – When di you came involved in raising awareness on breast cancer?

John: I started raising awareness for breast cancer in 2007. The family and I joined my sister’s school team every year, which would raise money for breast cancer while we ran the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure. I became even more involved during and after my mother’s breast cancer in 2011.

Christina: I became involved with raising money for breast cancer in 2006. At the time, I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing, but as I got older, I invested myself with Susan G. Komen.

KABILIANA – How this experience affected you in percepting the reality around you and your daily life as well? What are the three things you learned from this experience?

John: My mother’s breast cancer situation shocked me at first because of the statistic that 1 in every 8 women gets breast cancer at some point in her life. The odds were supposed to be in our favor but this situation made me realize that I can never be sure. The situation deteriorated my spirits because so many women die of breast cancer every year and it was up to my mom to fight this deadly disease. But this affected me in a positive way because my mom went to hell and back fighting this disease and came out a victor. I learned that there is always hope even if the darkest of times. My mom needed to have it because her life depended on it. Lastly, I learned that I need to cherish every moment with someone because I will never know if it will be the last.

Christina: In my opinion, this breast cancer experience made me stronger and more indipendent. Having to see my mom in chemotherapy and losing her hair had an impact on me. Three things I learned during this time is one, with family you can conquer anything. My mom, had her sisters and brother, my dad, my brother and I. We all considered this 'our breast cancer'. Second, I did a lot of research on breast cancer. I found out that not all tumors are cancerous. Some are benign, which means they are harmless, and some are malignant, which means, cancerous. My mom's was malignant. Third, from this experience I learned how strong my mom actually is. Of course, I knew my mom was amazing and tough for just being my mom, but watching a video of her in surgery, and losing her hair, and just defeating breast cancer really was an eye opener.

KABILIANA – How being conscious of a problem can “help” in going over it?

John: Well, if my mother was not conscious of this problem, the cancer would have taken her life. So we were blessed to find out that we found the cancer just in time. But more importantly, my mother needed to be conscious of the cancer to fight it. Building up the strength to fight a deadly disease takes mental preparation in addition to the search for hope. 

Christina: Being conscious of a problem can 'help' in going over it, because in my case, I was able to analyze the problem and help in anyway I can. If I wasn't conscious of the problem I would be confused on what to do to help. Also, knowing what the problem is, can help because you can do research, and  guide the person in need of help.
KABILIANA – Breast Cancer is something that you both lived in prime line as a family experience and for this reason you felt deeply involved. How did your friends supported you? Did you find encouragement, participation?

John: Many of my friends and teachers at school wished my mother well when I was uncertain of her fate. But I found encouragement when the doctors told our family that she would be fine and from my mother’s progress.

Christina: My friends, family and school were very supportive through this tough time! Everyone always wanted to know what he/she could do to make this easy for the family. We had food delivered to us every week from Fresh Direct and by the end of the summer we had about 60 cards from friends and family. I couldn' t have asked for a better support group. When, it came down to the race, I had so many people wanting to raise money. By October 2011, (the end of fundraising) I had raised $550.
KABILIANA – What would you like to tell to any mates of your same age about this cause and how can they join and what tips would you give to any young person who would like to join a cause?

John: If a family member or loved one has breast cancer, show your support and love to them. When diagnosed, everything in life seems darker and more hopeless. Trust me when I say that love and support gives hope to the person with cancer. Love eliminates the loneliness. But anyone can help others with this issue in their family. If you have a friend that is going through this, give your condolence and offer to help them in any way. You    can also donate money to teams that are running the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure. The money goes toward breast cancer research and treatment.

Christina: For teens my age that have a mom with breast cancer or just found out, don't worry! If there is one piece of advice that I can give you is, don 't freak out and panic. Help  out. For example, bring your mom tea and go with her to appointments.  During this experience, I learned that you have to show your mom that you are also brave. That is the only way she will fight harder.
Now for raising money for breast cancer: This is a great cause! A lot of the money you fundraise goes to mammograms (the way they find out if you have it), Wigs for women and goes toward finding a cure. Getting involved is  easy! All you do is go to a  cite that raises money for breast cancer. I chose  Susan G. Komen. Then comes the fun part  which is... fundraise. You can ask your friends, family and post it on your Facebook page. The key is to get it as known as possible. After that comes the annual breast cancer walk and that is a blast! It is so much fun because, it is like a party. There are pink balloons everywhere! There are cheerleaders cheering you on all the way. Then, at the end there is music and stands of gifts and give always and it is a day to remember. The Susan G. Komen, Race for the Cure is 3 miles long. Well, all I can now is, get involved! Make it fun and let's " run breast cancer out of town"


TO KNOW MORE ABOUT  BREAST CANCER HERE SOME LINKS (Any country you live, you can just Google keywords about breast cancer or any other cause and you'll be lead to many useful sites)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I've been out of this place for a while, even though I've continued beeing active concerning Building Libraries. Now I'm back  and ready to continue proposing books from all over the world and hosting librarians sustainable initiatives that can be inspirational proposing different ways of promoting reading.

Publishers who want to send a book to review and whose author interview  

Librarians who want to host their Library on this site and talk about their initiatives to promote reading among children- youth 

Authors who want to share their experience meeting Young readers

All of you can contact me HERE valentinammaka - AT - gmail.com

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Since last year we have started an ambitious project in which we strongly believe, creating substainable libraries for the children who lives in the slums of Nairobi. The first Library we are creating is dedicated to the children of Jericho, a slum in Nairobi.
In January, when the school will be open again after Christamas Festivity, we 'll donate the first library that we managed to create thank's to donors who supported our cause with immense partecipation.
Still we would like to improve it and add more books.
Whoever would love to contribute please can send English or Kiswahili Books at previousely contacting me:
associazionesoggettonomade (AT) yahoo (DOT) com

We are sure of the success of such a project that is why we intend to continue creating a real net of Slum Libraries in Nairobi. So if now you can't contribute you can do it for the future.
Thank's to all.

I remind my new and old friends (educators, writers, teachers) that we are completing a booklet of scripts which illustrates in few lines (max 30 lines) e memoir of your first experience as a reader or anything which tells your relationship since your childhood, with books.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Girls in Nairobi slum
As many of you already knows, we have started collecting books for building a library in Jericho Primary School in Nairobi, our aim is to reach a good amount of books within December, in order to gift the school. Thank's to Amy Bodden Bowllan and some other friends around the world, we have already received books and educational tapes. Thank you all.


I would like to ask to write a max 30 lines script dedicated to the students of Jericho Primary School where you expose the importance of reading, of having a library where to get lost through thepages of extraordinary adventures and also, if you wish, telling a significative episode of your childhood or teeneagerhood when you discovered the beauty of reading books. We'd like to donate the library together with a special "book" of letters from writers and publishers to stimulate the students and offer them a chance to share other's experiences.
Please who is willing to partecipate in this project can e-mail to associazionesoggettonomade (AT) yahoo (DOT)  com the script.

The deadline is the the 15th of November.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


The Ofafa Jericho Primary School in Nairobi doesn't have a library. I met some of the students of the school, here you can see them, and they would really love to have books to read. We had a splendid time with Lavine, Mercy, Juliet, Lucy, Redenpter, Macline... they told me their dreams and their ambitions, how they would love to contribute to the growth of their ocuntry. They'd love to become doctors, teachers and journalist... very ambitious and very brillant, I've seen their excercise books, they have lovely marks even though their life in the slum is full of hardship. When they go home they help their mums, they wash their own clothes and help cooking and taking care of little brothers and sisters. They are lovely and they deserve to have access to books because they all believe that books will help them to open their mind and know what is around the world.

We have to thank Amy Bowllan, her generosity os gourgeous. Thank you Amy for what you do for our causes through your site SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL.

Friday, April 24, 2009


To all the readers and followers I must apologize for the long time since I'm away from the blog. This is due to the fact that now I' m in Kenya working on an Educational Project. Soon you'll read about it here, so please check in a short while.