THE family of a 13-year-old who died in April have raised more than £16,000 in her memory to help stop female genital cutting.
The money will be devoted to the fight to stop the genital mutilation of young girls in Africa – a subject in which young Zoe Miller became interested after mum Jane told her about the practice.
Zoe, who went to Abbot’s Hill School in Hemel Hempstead, met senior politicians during an event at the House of Commons to help stop the practice only a few weeks before her death in April.
Jane said: “After something so awful has happened, at least something positive is coming out of it.
“Zoe was also a kid who wanted to do something a bit more unusual and this is a quite unusual, taboo thing that people do not want to talk about.”
After her death, Zoe’s family – sister Sam, 11, and parents Jane, 46, and Rob, 49 – asked people to make donations at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/zoemiller rather than buying flowers. The site has now taken in £16,670.10 including gift aid.
Zoe – who would have turned 14 on June 19 – lived in Africa for 10 years – her mum works for the UK government’s Department for International Development.
Her best friend Emma Styleman, 14, has organised a two-mile fundraising run beginning and ending at Jane’s house in George Street, Berkhamsted, on Saturday.
At Zoe’s memorial service in May, Emma described having seen her just the day before she was found dead on a railway line near her home on Monday, April 23.
She said: “That will be my strongest memory of her, her just smiling and being happy.
“Zoe was loved by everyone and will be loved forever.”
Fiona Duby read a statement from Zoe’s family, saying that her death had made them feel “in shock, numb and sick”.
It said: “We cannot begin to tell you the deep physical and emotional pain we are going through.
“Her views on issues from politics, religion, violence in Nigeria to female genital cutting were not those of a regular 13-year-old.
“We are so sad that the world has lost this light of innovative thinking.
“We will always miss Zoe – and our lives will never be the same again.”
Female genital cutting affects 97 per cent of girls in Somalia and 90 per cent of the girls in Sudan.
It is a cultural practice that has been going on for more than 2,000 years. For more information, visit www.orchidproject.org/