Utilizing Participatory Storytelling to Educate – A session at APHA 2019

1On Nov 4, 2019, Sahiyo’s co-founder Mariya Taher took part in a round-table session at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to discuss the Voices to End FGM/C project. Participants were able to view a sample of the digital stories created by survivors. They were also able to learn how by utilizing participatory storytelling methods, we can educate communities, health professionals, and policymakers on female genital cutting. For more information, visit APHA’s website.

We should all speak up against female genital cutting

By Hatim Amiji

As a man, I found myself extremely nervous sitting in a circle of ten women at Sahiyo’s Voices to End FGM/C workshop. I had entered what I would consider a sacred space, to share my story related to female genital cutting (FGC), but more importantly, to listen to their stories. The air was dense and it was obvious that what was about to be shared would be opening up deep and unhealed wounds. I took part in Sahiyo’s storytelling workshop because I wanted to make a point that FGC is an issue males should be willing to stand against. My story highlighted how the practice alienated the relationship I had with my sister. Only by listening to her story, were we able to recreate a bond we once had as innocent children. 

IMG_7437.JPGAs the women told their stories, I listened to their descriptions of the pain they underwent both during the practice and throughout their lives. The metaphorical microphone had been passed, and I could hear what these women had kept inside for most of their lives. As a man, and therefore, in many ways an observer, I was situated in a derivative of social voyeurism. I was listening to stories that had weighed these women down for decades, but I myself never went through such experiences. And yet, I was accepted into their circle; I was given the chance to listen because they felt it was important for me to listen. In turn, the story I told was important for them to hear as well. It was one of solidarity, one that depicted a mutual understanding that this practice needs to end no matter one’s biological sex.

It is common knowledge in the community in which I was raised that this issue is one males are not to get involved in. As I have learned from women in the workshop, it’s the same for many communities around the globe. I had learned of the practice tangentially by skimming through an online pamphlet, and only learned of the prevalence of the practice by doing research on my own. It was never brought up in religious congregations, Sunday school, or in conversations with my parents. I had to bring it up to my mother in order to learn more about it, and I have yet to even speak with my father because I know he is likely as shielded from the issue as I once was.

Aside from the fact that males are less informed on the issue, it is also apparent that males turn a blind eye even in light of exposure to the practice. We are expected to let the issue stay a female issue: one that we shouldn’t meddle in because we don’t understand. It is true that I will never understand the actual manifestation and perception of pain and lifelong suffering that comes with the practice, but I do understand that this practice is a source of trauma that affects our daughters and sisters and mothers, and this is enough for men to stand up and speak out against it. Around the globe, females are robbed of their innocence in the form of genital cutting and there is absolutely no good reason why. We must speak up because this issue affects us all.

 

Calling survivors of female genital cutting and health providers for a unique storytelling opportunity

Apply to be a storyteller here!

In November 2019, Sahiyo and StoryCenter will partner with The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health to host a digital storytelling workshop in Washington, D.C. Sahiyo is advocating for the abandonment of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), while StoryCenter supports organizations in using storytelling and participatory media for social change.

The November workshop will focus on health and female genital cutting. With that focus in mind, Sahiyo extends an invitation to: 1) women over 18 years old, living in the United States, who have undergone FGM/C and who have a story to share about receiving healthcare in the U.S. or 2) health providers in the United States, of all genders (i.e. physicians, nurses, midwives, etc.) who have provided services to women who have undergone FGM/C.

Together these groups can highlight stories about the enduring impact of FGM/C on women’s health and/or inform health professionals of the kind of care and best practices health professionals need to be aware of when working with FGM/C survivors. The resulting short digital stories will be used to better educate health professionals on how to support survivors living in the U.S..

Sahiyo’s Inaugural Storytelling Workshop

In 2018, Sahiyo, in partnership with StoryCenter, launched an inaugural digital storytelling workshop. Nine women’s stories have since elevated the conversation about FGM/C in the U.S. and globally. The stories were distributed online and via media channels, as well as at live community screening events. They are being used as educational tools to support discussion among survivors within their communities, with a focus on challenging the social norms sanctioning FGM/C, and encouraging an end to the practice.

About Sahiyo:

Since 2015, Sahiyo has been advocating for the abandonment of FGM/C through dialogue, education and collaboration. Sahiyo conducted the first-ever international online survey of Dawoodi Bohra women on the subject of FGM/C. Read the full report here

About StoryCenter: 

StoryCenter creates spaces for transforming lives and communities, through the acts of listening to and sharing stories as a vehicle for education, community mobilization, and advocacy. They collaborate with organizations around the world on workshops in story facilitation, digital storytelling, and other forms of participatory media production. Individuals are encouraged to register for storytelling workshops. 

About The George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health:

GWU has been working closely with survivors and health care providers to develop a living virtual educational toolkit (fgmtoolkit.gwu.edu).

If you would like to participate in the workshop, apply by October 14th via this link:  http://bit.ly/DC_VoicesEndFGMC.

View informational flyer here.

 

 

 

Launching Global Voices to End FGM/C – An Online Digital Storytelling Workshop

On June 1, Sahiyo and StoryCenter launched a pilot online digital storytelling workshop – Global Voices to End FGM/C, which is supporting ten women impacted by female genital cutting in sharing and audio-recording their stories. 

During June, storytellers attended a series of webinars that helped highlight the storyteller process and how to go about drafting their story scripts as well creating a storyboard for their digital story. During July and August, the storytellers will continue working on their digital stories by collecting illustrations for their stories. The stories will be illustrated with a combination of personal images (photos and video clips) provided by the storytellers, and images contributed by participating women artists. 

The storytellers come from a variety of countries including:  Tanzania, United Kingdom, India, Sweden, Singapore, and Bahrain. “As a survivor of FGC, it is empowering to be able to share my story in my own words, with my own choice of visuals, as opposed to my story being told by someone else,” said Aarefa Johari, one of the participants of the workshop. 

All participants’ digital stories will be released in late September.

Seeking Storytellers for Voices to End FGM/C – A U.S. based digital storytelling workshop

For the second year, Sahiyo and StoryCenter will collaborate to host a 3-day in-person, U.S. based digital storytelling workshop from September 20th-22nd, 2019 for survivors of Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation (FGM/C) and/or those who come from FGM/C practicing communities and are advocates against it. This year’s workshop will take place in Asheville, North Carolina and will be supported by Threads Weaving Dreams.

To apply, fill out this form to be selected as one of the storytellers for this workshop.

In 2018, Sahiyo and StoryCenter brought together nine women from across the United States to create personalized digital stories that narrate experiences of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). These women, who differ in identity and experience, each shared a personal story addressing a different challenge with FGM/C. The collection that resulted was called Sahiyo Stories and the digital stories were woven together with a united sentiment and a joint hope that the stories would build a critical mass of voices from within FGM/C-practicing communities, calling for the abandonment of this harmful practice.

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Building from the first digital storytelling workshop, this second iteration will be called Voices to End FGM/C and will seek to gather 8 people from across the United States who are connected to the issue of FGM/C to come together in a workshop dedicated to healing and creating, through sharing their personal stories.

Space is limited to 8 participants, and travel scholarships are available. The application will close on June 30th. Apply here.

View sample stories from our previous work with survivors of FGM/C, and check out Sahiyo’s blog posts about the first digital storytelling workshop, the Sahiyo Stories project.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Amy Hill, from StoryCenter, at amylenita@storycenter.org; or Mariya Taher, from Sahiyo, at mariya@sahiyo.com

 

Voices to End FGM/C: Seeking artists for social norm change project

Sahiyo is thrilled to announce the “Voices to End FGM/C” global storytelling project in collaboration with StoryCenter , which will 32116875_599132283756674_95332584455667712_n-e1550871714233.jpgsupport a group of ten women who have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in telling their stories.

StoryCenter is a community-arts organization that has for 20+ years worked with grassroots groups on participatory digital storytelling and media arts projects.  

DSC_0073We are seeking women artists (illustrators, painters, animators, graphic designers, etc.) to illustrate the stories, as a way of preserving the anonymity of the storytellers. The stories will be recorded in June 2019, and artists will work on illustrations in July, with the goal of completing the videos in August (all video editing will be done by StoryCenter staff).

Check out a sample story from our previous work with survivors of FGM/C.

If you or an artist who you know would like to get involved as an artist with this project, please contact mariya@sahiyo.com no later than June 1, 2019 for details on what will be required.

Each artist will receive a stipend of $200 U.S.

To download this information as PDF, click here.

If you are interested in telling your FGC story and would like to apply to be a participant, click here.

 

Voices to End FGM/C: Seeking Storytellers for Social Norm Change

This year, Sahiyo looks forward to continuing our partnership with StoryCenter, a community-arts organization that has for 20+ years worked with grassroots groups on participatory digital storytelling and media arts projects.  

To apply to be a participant, fill out the application! 

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In 2018, Sahiyo and Story Center worked together on Sahiyo Stories, and will be expanding the project into this next chapter- The Voices to End FGM/C Project in 2019.

The next phase of this project will guide ten women who have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) through an online digital storytelling workshop and support them inDSC_0073 sharing and audio recording their stories.

We are seeking women interested and available to participate in the workshop, which will be held via four webinar sessions scheduled for: Wed. June 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2019 (one-hour sessions, times to be determined). The stories will be illustrated with a combination of personal images (photos and video clips) to be provided by the storytellers, and images contributed by participating women artists. Final editing will be done by StoryCenter, with the goal of completing a set of videos in August 2019.

If you or someone you know would like to get involved as a storyteller with this project, please submit expressions of interest no later than May 15, 2019, through this online form.

View sample stories from our previous work with survivors of FGM/C, and check out Sahiyo’s blog posts about the Sahiyo Stories project.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Amy Hill, from StoryCenter, at amylenita@storycenter.org; or Mariya Taher, from Sahiyo, at mariya@sahiyo.com

Fill out this form to get involved.

To download this information as PDF, click here.