Upcoming Webinar: Addressing Female Genital Cutting in the Clinic

By Sandra Yu

Female genital cutting (FGC) is an often overlooked issue in medical curriculums, and medical care for survivors is rarely a topic of discussion. As part of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, Sahiyo is hosting a webinar to inform individuals about the necessity for trauma-informed care for survivors of female genital cutting.

Join Sahiyo for “FGC In the Clinic: A Dialogue between Survivors and Healthcare Professionals” at 6 p.m. EST on Tuesday, December 8th. This panel discussion aims to gather the perspectives of clinicians and survivors as they discuss their in-clinic experiences. Renee Bergstrom, EdD, and Sarata Kande will be speaking about their experiences in connection to receiving medical care related to FGC. Karen McDonnell, PhD, Dr. Margaret Dow, and Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer will respond and discuss the current state of healthcare for survivors of gender-based violence. Mariam Sabir, a fourth-year medical student, will speak about her advocacy for supporting survivors in healthcare settings. Zahra Qaiyumi and Sandra Yu will moderate.

Renee Bergstrom, EdD works toward ending female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) by sharing her survivor story as a white, Midwest American. She is a retired patient educator who now focuses her energy on the art of weaving. 

Sarata Kande is a student, entrepreneur and youth advocate for inter-African committee. She is a survivor of FGC and loves to share her story. She dedicates her time as an advocate and an interpreter.

Margaret Dow, MD is a laborist at Mayo clinic, where she serves as Clerkship Director. She works with medical students, peers, and the community in education and advocacy for survivors of FGM/C and in trauma-informed care practices, as well as practices that promote equity in healthcare.

Deborah Ottenheimer, MD is the Director of the Women’s Holistic Health Initiative at Harlem United/ URAM, Nest Community Health Center where she is focused on immigrant health as well as the development and implementation of a multispecialty medical service for women and girls affected by FGM/C. In addition to her clinical practice, Dr. Ottenheimer spends a significant portion of her professional time assisting asylum-seeking women who have suffered human rights violations. Dr. Ottenheimer is an active member of Physicians for Human Rights, and serves as faculty at the Human Rights Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the Weill Cornell Clinic for Human Rights, and the CUNY School of Medicine Human Rights Collaborative aiding survivors Gender Based Violence, including female genital cutting, domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking in their applications for asylum. She has published and lectured extensively on human rights violations against women, with a focus on FGC. She has also worked in Haiti, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo, helping to improve the health and lives of women in low resource settings.

Karen McDonnell, PhD is a public health program evaluation and implementation specialist with over 15 years of experience working with community groups, public health agencies, and health care systems both locally and globally to ensure the health and well-being of women and children. McDonnell’s expertise lies in using mixed methods to look at complex public health issues and programs. Her most recent work is leading a team to evaluate gender-based violence in immigrant communities, development, and testing of a community-centered FGM/C prevention project, evaluating the National Domestic Violence Hotline/loveisrespect Helpline and evaluating multi-systems changes in the Clinical Translational Science Institute with Children’s National and The George Washington University. 

Mariam Sabir is a fourth-year medical school student at the American University of the Caribbean. She aspires to become a family physician that provides comprehensive care. She became an avid Sahiyo supporter when she discovered how prevalent female genital cutting is, particularly in her very own community. While rotating through different fields of medicine such as obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, pediatrics and family medicine, she discovered her passion for educating health care professionals on how to provide culturally sensitive care for women who have undergone FGC.

Zahra Qaiyumi completed her undergraduate education at The University of Maryland, studying physiology, neurobiology, and Spanish. Afterward, she pursued a Master’s degree in Physiology at Georgetown University. She then moved to the Bay Area and participated in neurobehavioral research while working with adolescents diagnosed with ADHD at the University of California San Francisco’s Neuroscape Center. Currently, she is in her third year of medical school at the Frank H. Netter M.D. School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University.

Sandra Yu is an undergraduate student at Vassar College studying biochemistry and philosophy. She is interested in public health policy and expanding womens’ healthcare access in underserved populations. She was drawn by Sahiyo’s mission to end FGM/C through powerful storytelling, and she hopes to contribute to Sahiyo’s platform to grow and empower the community.

Register here: bit.ly/addressing-fgc-in-the-clinic 

Facebook updates: https://fb.me/e/3QaNwkvWE

More Than A Survivor: An interview with Mubaraka

Sahiyo understands that being a survivor of female genital cutting (FGC) is just one moment of your life and only one part of who you are as a person. Oftentimes, being labeled as a survivor can prevent people from seeing a person in any other context beyond survivorship.

Our campaign, #MoreThanASurvivor, explores our individuality and shows the world what makes us unique. After all, who we are is made up of all the moments in our lives, not just one.

Interview:

Where do you live?

Mumbai, India 

Where’s the favorite place you have traveled to, lived in, or would like to visit?

Bali

What are some of your passions?

Photography, reading and travel

What does an average day look like for you?

The average day in my life goes like this: 

I wake up at around 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. on a weekday. I lie on my bed checking social media. I reply to any text I receive. Even after that, I lie in bed for an extra ten minutes thinking about random things, but usually recalling the dreams I had. Then I get ready while listening to my music, put on a face mask, and get myself something to drink. I then talk to my family for a while, and schedule a time for lunch with my sister so we can try to eat together. After lunch I either read or watch a movie. I also spend some of my time going through job opportunities. Otherwise, it’s just spent annoying my sister! If I am very hungry and tired, I get myself a quick snack. Most evenings are spent looking out the window and discovering/listening to music on YouTube and Spotify. Depending on how hungry I am, I plan dinner. After eating, I usually chill with my dad and play a few games or talk to my sister about the new memes we’ve come across. We all hangout in the family room for a while, and then I get on a call with friends and catch up with them. Before going to bed I check my social media, review my to do list, and organise my tasks for the next day. 

What are some things you do for self-care?

Self care is extremely important to me, so I make sure I’m feeling good by having a skincare routine, spending time reading, making myself something to eat from scratch (typically pancakes), getting on call with a close friend, listening to music, giving myself a pep talk and writing it down, watching a feel good movie/series–usually end up watching Friends 😀

What are five words to describe you?

Creative, adaptable, honest, dependable, eccentric

What are your hobbies?

Photography, reading, watching movies

What is your profession or what career would you like to be in?

Travel and tourism

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A dog walker

What is your favorite food?

Pizza 

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement was receiving the H.E.R. Award by Barkha Dutt and UN Women.

What is a hidden talent that you possess?

My hidden talent is that I can give the best pep talks.

More Than A Survivor: An interview with Lubaina

Sahiyo understands that being a survivor of female genital cutting (FGC) is just one moment of your life and only one part of who you are as a person. Oftentimes, being labeled as a survivor can prevent people from seeing a person in any other context beyond survivorship.

Our campaign, #MoreThanASurvivor, explores our individuality and shows the world what makes us unique. After all, who we are is made up of all the moments in our lives, not just one.

Interview:

Where do you live?

Mumbai, India

Where’s the favorite place you have travelled to, lived in, or would like to visit?

Bangkok, Thailand

What are some of your passions? 

As an urban planner, I find joy in the everydayness of living, working, and problem solving in cities. Cities are wonderful! 🙂 

What does an average day look like for you? 

More recently, it revolves around the wonders and woes of my 17-month old! 

What are some things you do for self-care? 

I enjoy a monthly visit to the neighbourhood salon. 

What are five words to describe you?

Intelligent, loyal, reserved, funny, proud

What are your hobbies? 

Love reading, quiet painting time, and recently solving puzzles with my toddler 

What is your profession or what career would you like to be in? 

Urban Planner / Architect

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Many things, I find it so hard to even remember! 

What is your favorite food? 

Hmmm food type – desert! And Thai food! 

What is your proudest achievement? 

Many small moments of pride: post-graduation, authoring a report, having a child, but I’m still waiting for the proudest moment, working on it! 

What is a hidden talent that you possess? 

Working well with all sorts of people, if I have to!

More Than A Survivor: An interview with Jumana

Sahiyo understands that being a survivor of female genital cutting (FGC) is just one moment of your life and only one part of who you are as a person. Oftentimes, being labeled as a survivor can prevent people from seeing a person in any other context beyond survivorship.

Our campaign, #MoreThanASurvivor, explores our individuality and shows the world what makes us unique. After all, who we are is made up of all the moments in our lives, not just one.

Interview:

Where do you live?

Ahmedabad, India

Where’s the favorite place you have travelled to, lived in, or would like to visit? Travelled to Ladakh

What are some of your passions? 

Journalism, scuba diving, creative writing, unconventional traveling

What does an average day look like for you? 

Exciting! Play with my kids, write, edit a newspaper, workout, eat, sleep

What are some things you do for self-care? 

Workout, read

What are five words to describe you? 

Energetic, Empathetic, Bold, Diligent, Modest 😉

What are your hobbies? 

Gardening, cycling 

What is your profession or what career would you like to be in? 

Journalism

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Journalist

What is your favorite food? 

Tandoori chicken, dark chocolates, coffee, champagne

What is your proudest achievement? 

Yet to come – have my eyes on it

What is a hidden talent that you possess? 

My singing is an undermined talent. So is my cooking and discovering both thanks to my daughters. My singing ability I discovered out of the need to put them to sleep. And the maternal instinct of cooking for them has kind of unleashed a cook in me. I eat the food I make.

More Than A Survivor: An interview with Fatema

Sahiyo understands that being a survivor of female genital cutting (FGC) is just one moment of your life and only one part of who you are as a person. Oftentimes, being labeled as a survivor can prevent people from seeing a person in any other context beyond survivorship.

Our campaign, #MoreThanASurvivor, explores our individuality and shows the world what makes us unique. After all, who we are is made up of all the moments in our lives, not just one.

Interview:

Where do you live? 

Mumbai, India 

Where’s the favorite place you have traveled to, lived in, or would like to visit?

Favorite place I have traveled is Himalayas and Kashmir, and one place that I would love to stay at is Mecca, Saudi Arabia

What are some of your passions?

I am passionate about psychology and combining it with spirituality.  And just life in general. 

What does an average day look like for you?

An average day is mostly just waking up, thinking about college work and what to eat and watch on Netflix.

What are some things you do for self-care?

Twice a week is my pampering session where I do my mani-pedi and other things to take care of my physical appearance. And for my inner self I practice mindfulness and strengthen my faith in Allah.  

What are five words to describe you?

Compassionate, Lazy, Genuine, Driven and Anxious 

What are your hobbies?

Writing in my journal and reading up new things until I get bored of it. Painting, too.  

What is your profession or what career would you like to be in? 

I am studying to become a psychologist. 

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

As a child I really wanted to become a rockstar, and after that it has always been a psychologist. 

What is your favorite food? 

Anything that is absolutely yummy! 

What is your proudest achievement? 

My proudest achievement is how with every passing day I am able to manage myself and difficult situations better. Sometimes I surprise myself at how well I cope with things that used to affect me a lot before.  

What is a hidden talent that you possess? 

I think my intuition is my hidden talent.

More Than A Survivor: An interview with Farzana

Sahiyo understands that being a survivor of female genital cutting (FGC) is just one moment of your life and only one part of who you are as a person. Oftentimes, being labeled as a survivor can prevent people from seeing a person in any other context beyond survivorship.

Our campaign, #MoreThanASurvivor, explores our individuality and shows the world what makes us unique. After all, who we are is made up of all the moments in our lives, not just one.

Interview:

Where do you live?

Toronto, Canada

Where’s the favorite place you have traveled to, lived in, or would like to visit?

Istanbul, Turkey

What are some of your passions?

Writing, traveling, reading, activism

What does an average day look like for you?

8am-9am: meditate and check social media; 9am-12pm: write novels/poetry; 12pm-2pm: walk my senior dog and lunch; 2:30pm-7:30pm: see clients in my psychotherapy practice; 8:30-11:00; post-dinner wind-down with reading, exercise, Netflix, online events

What are some things you do for self-care?

Meditation, therapy, impromptu living room dancing

What are five words to describe you?

Creative, earnest, bossy, compassionate, driven

What are your hobbies?

Cycling, online dancing, reading

What is your profession?

Part-time author and part-time psychotherapist

What did you want to be when you grew up?

As a child, I would perform plays for my family and imagined being a stage actor. 

What is your favorite food?

My mom’s daal, rice, and kheema

What is your proudest achievement?

Publishing four novels

What is a hidden talent that you possess? 

I am an amateur tarot card reader.

More Than A Survivor: An interview with Fakhera

Sahiyo understands that being a survivor of female genital cutting (FGC) is just one moment of your life and only one part of who you are as a person. Oftentimes, being labeled as a survivor can prevent people from seeing a person in any other context beyond survivorship.

Our campaign, #MoreThanASurvivor, explores our individuality and shows the world what makes us unique. After all, who we are is made up of all the moments in our lives, not just one.

Interview:

Where do you live?

Mumbai, India

Where’s the favorite place you have travelled to, lived in, or would like to visit?

Salsburg

What are some of your passions?

travel, creative art 

What does an average day look like for you?

home, work and art 

What are some things you do for self-care?

regiment of food, exercise, meditation and walks

What are five words to describe you?

honest, fair and just person.

What are your hobbies?

travel and art 

What is your profession or what career would you like to be in?

creative arts

What did you want to be when you grew up?

homemaker and mother

What is your favorite food?

Bohri food

What is your proudest achievement?

contributing to the lives of people

What is a hidden talent that you possess?

anything to do with my fingers…crafts, art, cooking

More Than A Survivor: An interview with Alifya

Sahiyo understands that being a survivor of female genital cutting (FGC) is just one moment of your life and only one part of who you are as a person. Oftentimes, being labeled as a survivor can prevent people from seeing a person in any other context beyond survivorship.

Our campaign, #MoreThanASurvivor, explores our individuality and shows the world what makes us unique. After all, who we are is made up of all the moments in our lives, not just one.

Interview:

Where do you live? 

Pune, India 

Where’s the favorite place you have traveled to, lived in, or would like to visit?

Grown up in Saudi Arabia & Pune, love European culture in general. (Career in French)

What are some of your passions?

Cultures, Languages, technology, marketing, helping people, food, art

What does an average day look like for you?

Lots of sales and marketing, mentoring colleagues, training translators and these days,  cooking & webinars!

What are some things you do for self-care?

Play substitute-therapist to friends, dancing and lot of writing! (Puppy videos are a huge stress buster, too.)

What are five words to describe you?

Creative, emotional, streetsmart, tech-savvy & people-person

What are your hobbies?

Getting to know new people, traveling, exploring cultures of the world, discussing psychology & reading science-fiction

What is your profession or what career would you like to be in?

Language & localization industry

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Dance choreographer / interior designer

What is your favorite food?

Anything southeast Asian: Chinese and Thai are favourites!

What is your proudest achievement?

Being financially independent and moving out of my parent’s place

What is a hidden talent that you possess?

Creative writing

More Than A Survivor: An interview with Eliza

Sahiyo understands that being a survivor of female genital cutting (FGC) is just one moment of your life and only one part of who you are as a person. Oftentimes, being labeled as a survivor can prevent people from seeing a person in any other context beyond survivorship.

Our campaign, #MoreThanASurvivor, explores our individuality and shows the world what makes us unique. After all, who we are is made up of all the moments in our lives, not just one.

Interview:

Where do you live?

Mazgaon, Mumbai, India 

Where’s the favorite place you have traveled to, lived in, or would like to visit?

Turkey, Iran, Switzerland…list is endless.

What are some of your passions?

Music, reading

What does an average day look like for you?

Work and relaxation in equal measure

What are some things you do for self-care?

Walking and yoga

What are five words to describe you?

Strong, fun loving

What are your hobbies?

Travel

What is your profession or what career would you like to be in?

Practicing doctor

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Doctor 

What is your favorite food?

Mutton biryani

What is your proudest achievement?

Achieving a perfect balance between work and family

What is a hidden talent that you possess?

Hidden talent is still hidden and hasn’t surfaced!

More Than A Survivor: An interview with Aisha

Sahiyo understands that being a survivor of female genital cutting (FGC) is just one moment of your life and only one part of who you are as a person. Oftentimes, being labeled as a survivor can prevent people from seeing a person in any other context beyond survivorship.

Our campaign, #MoreThanASurvivor, explores our individuality and shows the world what makes us unique. After all, who we are is made up of all the moments in our lives, not just one.

Interview:

Where do you live?

I’m currently residing in the Groove Hall area of Roxbury, MA. 

Where’s the favorite place you have traveled to, lived in, or would like to visit?

My best traveled destination was in Havana, Cuba. My experience in Cuba was the most eye opening experience of my life. I felt like a part of the culture because of how welcoming the people were. My experience in living in Nairobi, Kenya, and in Boston, Massachusetts, has both enriched my life. Both countries have taught me about the diversity of the human race. Both experiences exposed me to the complexity of humanity. And how we can coexist with all the differences in culture, religion, language and ethnic/nationalities.

What are some of your passions?

I have vast passions in many areas of life. I take interest and advocate on issues such as women’s rights, economic injustice, child welfare, healthcare care reforms, and any form of injustice to humanity.

What does an average day look like for you?

On a work day, I’m usually up at 5:30 am. Shower, dress, eat and head to work. After work, I usually go to the gym and work out for a few hours. Then I unwind from the day with some wine, and a book or some form of entertainment. 

What are some things you do for self-care?

I like taking long baths and taking care of my skin, hair, and nails with the appropriate diet. I enjoy sleeping in, I work-out/meditate. I try to refrain from media and social interactions and try to connect with nature.

What are five words to describe you?

If I were to ask people who know me to describe me, they would say that I am intelligent, friendly, honest, fun, loyal. 

What are your hobbies?

Most of my hobbies consist of reading, working out, cooking, and traveling when I can afford.

What is your profession or what career would you like to be in?

I have worked several years in the mental health profession. In my career, I have worked with the dual-diagnosis, homeless, adolescents and the elderly population. These experiences have helped me face many challenges, victories and shaped me in valuing the lives and experiences of the people in my community.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Growing up I was told to be a healthcare provider. My family pushed me to pursue a nursing or biology degree as a means to med school. As I got older and exposed to liberal arts education and understanding the needs of my community, I decided to pursue a degree in psychology to become a mental health professional in the near future. 

What is your favorite food?

I love foods from all ethnic backgrounds, but if I had to choose, my top two would be Somali and Mexican. 

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement is teaching myself how to cook and dance. I took a hip hop class that helped strengthen my skills, but most other styles of dancing were self taught. 

What is a hidden talent that you possess?

I have a natural affinity for languages.