About SWF International
SWF International is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to eradicate female genital mutilation - FGM- in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, SWF educates people about the traditional practice of FGM. In Sierra Leone we work with local activists, politicians, doctors, secret society members and religious leaders on alternatives that respect human rights.
Anti-FGM activist and girl cut against her will Member of Parliament Knife used to cut girl
SWF International works to raise funds to build a school, a medical clinic and a library in Sierra Leone in its efforts to find effective ways to eradicate the harmful practice of FGM. SWF offers services to US and European based organizations that need to connect with key officials in Sierra Leone. These services are not free, and all the fees fund SWF projects in Sierra Leone. We strive to build a bridge of understanding, progress and satisfaction with our global and local partners.
With Religious leader discussing FGM In Freetown with His Excellency Ernest Koroma
At the International level SWF International partners with grass roots organizations supporting the on-going efforts to mass educate local men, women, boys and girls about the origins and implications of the FGM practice in parallel with basic healthcare education. SWF International promotes FGM awareness aimed at completely abolishing the practice, not at determining the age of concent.
SWF International was founded by Dr. Nina Smart on July 13th, 2004 in Los Angeles, California.
On March 26th, 2009, Nina Smart received the "Making a Difference for Women Award" from the Soroptimist International of Downey, California. The Mayor of Downey joined the Regional Governor of Soroptimist International and the Downey Club President in presenting her with the award.
On April 25th, 2009, Nina received the prestigious "Making a Difference for Women Award" from Soroptimist International Camino Real Region. The EGG Campaign (Empowering Girls Gifts) was introduced following her presentation on FGM, and it proved to be a success! Listening to facts about FGM and the work SWF International is doing in Sierra Leone inspired Soroptimist members to support the organization's efforts by purchasing hand -painted Eggs to contribute to the EGG Campaign's goal to build a school, a medical clinic and a library in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Dr. Nina Smart's story
Born and raised in Ceausescu’s communist Romania, Nina left her white family for West Africa at age 13, when she had the opportunity to join her diplomat father and his black family. Five years later, she fled Sierra Leone in terror for fear that she might die during the painful, dangerous and father-approved initiation into the women’s secret society - Bondo. As a result, her affluent father, who forced her to respect his country’s culture by subjecting herself to FGM, disowned her. Her passion to actively inform people about this practice, in addition to resisting its perpetuation, stems from that close encounter 18 years ago - her successful escape that marked her life.
For millions of girls and women, FGM is an everyday reality, not open for questioning. It is a procedure involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or injury to the female genital organs, whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons. The reasons given for the practice vary from religion, to control of sexuality, to hygiene, depending on the practicing group’s philosophy. However, the effects of FGM dominate a woman’s existence, creating complex medical and psychological problems.
In 2004, Dr. Smart founded SWF International and started to engineer programs that may work in the unique circumstances faced by the women of Sierra Leone. She realized that only someone who understands tradition and is seen as an insider could orchestrate effective ways to stop it. Her Ph.D. was in Sociology from University of California, Irvine. Dr. Smart studied the parliament of Sierra Leone, focusing on the absense of anti-FGM legislation.
SWF International’s focus is to improve the living conditions of men, women, boys and girls in the West African Country of Sierra Leone by building a bridge of understanding that links cultures across the ocean. SWF collaborates with other dedicated women who use a combined method of human rights education and health issues to find effective solutions aimed at first sensitizing the general population, then stopping the harmful practice of FGM. Eradication of FGM is the ultimate goal of SWF International, and it is the vision that fires Dr. Smart’s passion every day.
Dr. Nina Smart’s dream has become her reality, as she combines her education with her organization’s plan of direct action. Her hard work and dedication have transformed her passion into action, as she services wild flowers through SWF International!