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, Kenya.
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 of female genital mutilation. Many young girls become victims of this practice and are soon married.
For more than 20 years, Ruth has become their champion, speaking out in a 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 said 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,’” he said.
Ruth visits, works with, assists and supports the community there, and works with the girls to teach them skills. They are the lucky ones, she said.
But others do not escape the horror. Ruth’s own mother went through female genital mutilation at the age of 13.
“Please help," Ruth said. "The girls need all your support."