Friday, November 19th on the Oprah show, Oprah is showing her ultimate favorite things and honoring heroes. One of those heroes is a woman who lives in Little Rock. Heather Crawford has her inspirational story.
Inspired by a guest on an Oprah show in 2004 who was helping females in Africa, Esther Gatuma felt compelled to do something. Being a musician and well educated she knew girls in her native country of Kenya looked up to her and with her father's support she took action.
She started a grassroots humanitarian organization last year from her home in Little Rock called Woman of Paradise. Her mission is to empower young girls and women, and put an end to a practice banned in Kenya that is still very common. It's a practice that can endanger their lives.
Ester Gatuma says, "My goal and passion with this organization is to end female genital mutilation in all the cultures that enable it, and by that I mean we are going to be focusing very much in establishing women in entrepreneurship to build the self-esteem of their daughters so they can stop these self genital mutilation."
In Africa The World Health Organization says about 92 million girls age ten and above are estimated to have undergone procedures that intentionally alter or injure their genital organs for non-medical reasons. It's often a cultural rite of passage and child brides, some as young as eight, can be sold for more to older men if they have undergone female genital mutilation.
Gatuma says, "We formed the organization in April and it has been a journey that is amazing, incredible. We've had like a 100% percent where girls literally call me on the little talk radio I do once in awhile telling me that they've changed their minds. That they are not going to self mutilate themselves that they feel beautiful and whole."
Esther will be featured on the Oprah show Friday, November 14th at 4pm on KATV and will then join us live during our 5pm newscast to talk about something Oprah has given her that will help change even more lives.
You can learn more about Esther's organization by visiting www.womanofparadise.org.