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CHANGE Plus is all about involving communities affected by FGM in a process leading up to a new attitude towards FGM and, in the long term, the abandonment of the practice. Since it directly targets practising communities, the CHANGE Agents play a key role in the project. The idea is that the CHANGE Agents, being active community members themselves, have access to communities that are normally hard to reach, and thereby are able to act as multipliers within these communities. Instead of being perceived as intruders, they are more likely to inspire confidence and can overcome potential cultural and linguistic barriers more easily. Therefore, when recruiting future CHANGE Agents, we are looking for women and men of all ages (at least 18 years old) who are well integrated within their countries of residence and have roots in practising communities in – amongst others – Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Gambia, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Guinea and Mali. Apart from language skills (which may differ between the project countries) and good communication skills, there are no specific requirements concerning the CHANGE Agents’ educational and professional background. They should have basic knowledge about FGM, but most of all they need to be trustworthy, reliable and rejecting all forms of FGM without exception.
According to these criteria, a total of 48 persons will be recruited and then trained in order to enable them to promote behaviour change regarding FGM within their respective communities.
By signing up to become CHANGE Agents, the volunteers agree to engage in a two year process of personal development (April 2016 - January 2018), in the course of which they will participate in the training sessions and in ten additional exchange meetings with their fellow CHANGE Agents.
According to the needs of each group of CHANGE Agents, the number of hours per training session may vary, but overall, all CHANGE Agents will benefit from the same number of hours of training. The exchange meetings will allow the CHANGE Agents to discuss successful strategies or difficulties they face and to support and motivate each other mutually.
Furthermore, each of the CHANGE Agents will implement at least three Behaviour Change Activities within their respective communities.
The training sessions will provide the CHANGE Agents with extensive information about FGM as well as with the necessary resources, communication strategies and methodological skills they need to fulfil their role as multipliers and to promote behaviour change towards FGM in practising communities.