Everyday Hero: Protecting Young Girls 8,000 Miles Away

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa woman is devoting her life with courage and compassion protecting young girls in her home country 8,000 miles away.

In this week’s Everyday Hero, we met Ruth Konchella and her husband, Michael Ranneberger. Ruth is Maasai and was born and raised in Nairobi.

They met as Mike was serving as the U.S. ambassador to Kenya.

He calls her a hero to thousands of young girls.

Ruth is the director of Cherish Others Organization – Kenya. Its primary mission is to stop the horrific practice known as FGM – female genital mutilation. Many young girls become victims of this practice and are soon married.

For over 20 years, Ruth has become their champion, speaking out in this male dominated society, at times at risk to herself.

But she is seeing change – girls not being molested.

“When I go back to the village these days, old girls have gone through education,” she said.

Mike says when he first met Ruth, he recognized her amazing courage.

“I saw her as a human rights activist and said, ‘Look, this is a person trying to protect fundamental rights and promote education.’”

Ruth visits and works with, assists and supports the community there and works with the girls, teaching them skills. They are the lucky ones.

But others do not escape the horror. Ruth’s own mother went through FGM at the age of 13.

“Please help. The girls need all your support,” she said.

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