Sahiyo Volunteer Spotlight: Shabana Feroze

Based in Bahrain, Shabana Feroze is a Bahraini citizen originally from India. She started volunteering with Sahiyo in April 2017 and is the owner of advertising agency The Silver Kick Company and co-owner of a lace fashion business called Lace Love. She teaches Les Mills group fitness classes in the evenings and is a style and travel blogger at TheSilverKickDiaries.com. She believes in chasing her passions and standing up for what she believes in.

1)    When did you first get involved with Sahiyo?

I first got involved with Sahiyo in April, when I signed the petition for the UN to invest in research and support to end FGC in Asia. I commented on the petition that I’m signing as I’m a victim myself, and Mariya responded to me asking me if I would like to share my story on Sahiyo’s website.  I then shared my story on the website and became a volunteer soon after.

2)    What opportunities have you been involved with at Sahiyo?

I try and help in any way I can as I want to support these incredible women who founded the group, and this worthy cause, as much as I can. I have helped make the website feedback evaluation questionnaire, helped to draft social media posts, and have been an interviewee for a research project based in Mumbai that will help activists who aren’t from the community. Currently, I’m working with the social media intern at Sahiyo to make their social media more effective and reach more people. And of course, I have shared the petition with my network and keep sharing news about FGC and Sahiyo’s research as much as possible so I can get friends and family to support the cause, and get them to share it with their friends and family.

3)    How has your involvement impacted your life?

I do think that being involved with Sahiyo has helped to reduce the pain of being a victim of FGC. It makes me feel so good that I’m able to be a voice of Sahiyo, and to help spread the word that FGC is harmful, unnecessary and traumatizing. Ever since I realized I’m a survivor of FGC (my memory had blocked it out), I have been wanting to do something to stop FGC and through Sahiyo I get to do it. It has given me the courage to be able to talk to my cousins and friends to not have it done to their daughters or other girls in the family.

4)    What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting Sahiyo?

Every little bit counts. There are many small jobs that need help inside the organization which we, as outsiders, don’t realize. So please volunteer and help out in those jobs. The founder members are already doing a lot of selfless work and spending lots of time to make Sahiyo a strong voice, and every little thing you can do to help them will help Sahiyo become stronger.

Sahiyo Volunteer Spotlight: Lubaina Plumber

Lubaina Plumber is a U.S. based volunteer who has been with Sahiyo for a year now. She was a human rights lawyer in Mumbai who just graduated from Washington University School of Law, St Louis with her Masters in Law. She plans to continue her education in the field of public policy and management to build a career and life in which she can effectively support every cause believes in. To learn more about how she has supported our work at Sahiyo, read her interview below.Photo 2

  1. When did you first get involved with Sahiyo?

I got in touch with Zehra Patwa, whose article I read a few years ago and she, in turn, put me in touch with Mariya Taher. I spoke to Mariya about opportunities to work for the cause and began my journey, being involved with Sahiyo.

  1. What opportunities have you been involved with at Sahiyo?

I have written some articles, worked on a handbook and other material and actively participated on the Whatsapp group, set up the Instagram page, and try to do as much as time permits when the opportunity presents itself.

  1. How has your involvement impacted your life?

Working with an organization teaches one a lot about group involvement, support, and unity. Being involved with an organization that fights for a cause that is very personal for me, is like having a platform for your voice. Sahiyo has given me the gentle push and reminder to keep fighting for my cause, whether or not I see results immediately.

  1. What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting Sahiyo?

I am an advocate and fan of being involved with organizations that support the causes you believe in. Support is the best way of showing your concern and using your time wisely. I would say that people should be open-minded and not hesitate to raise questions — if there is something you don’t agree with, ask and you will receive answers. My personal experience has lead me to believe that Sahiyo respects their volunteers and their opinions as much as we do the cause and the fight for it.

Sahiyo Volunteer Spotlight: Chandni Shiyal

Sahiyo is an organization with the mission to empower Asian communities to end female genital cutting through community collaboration, and this work could not be done without dedicated volunteers supporting us. To show our appreciation, we would like to spotlight those volunteers who have made invaluable contributions to this organisation.

Chandni Shiyal, a Ph.D. scholar in Mumbai, has been involved with Sahiyo almost from its inception, as a committed field worker reaching out to Bohra women at the grassroots level. Read about her Sahiyo experience below, in her own words:

1) When did you first get involved with Sahiyo?img-20161026-wa0000

I first got involved with the organisation when Sahiyo was established. My involvement began when I came in contact with one of Sahiyo’s co-founders Aarefa Johari after I started pursuing my Ph.D. research focusing exclusively on FGC in India and Africa.

2) What opportunities have you been involved with at Sahiyo?

I have written a blog and also helped handle logistics during the first media workshop organised by Sahiyo. I have also been interviewing many Bohra friends and Bohra women regarding Khatna or FGC. By interviewing them I had the opportunity to have deliberate discussions with them and learn more about their perception and views on Khatna. I shared with them my own findings about the social, physical and psychological impact of this practice. A few of my interviewees reacted positively towards opposing FGC and said they would make sure that their daughters did not undergo Khatna though they themselves were subjected to this practice.

3) How has your involvement impacted your life?

I have been concerned about women’s issues and have always wanted to work and contribute to women’s causes. I was very impressed by the efforts of seventeen courageous women who openly signed a petition against Khatna, a sensitive issue that was never discussed on a larger scale in India and kept secret within the community itself. Being part of group discussions with co-founders of Sahiyo and volunteers across the world has built more confidence in me to stand up for women’s rights.

4) What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting Sahiyo?

To achieve women’s equality is not just the responsibility of women but the responsibility of the entire community itself. There are various forms of violence like FGM, domestic violence, rape, etc. faced by millions of women each day across the world. Everyone should not remain silent but come forward to build a discrimination-free world, where every woman is respected and they have the right to live life according to their choice and decisions.

Short Bio:

Chandni Shiyal has completed her M.Phil. on the subject of Female Circumcision/Female Genital Mutilation in Africa: A Case Study of Ethiopia  from the Centre for African Studies, University of Mumbai. She recently published a book titled Female Circumcision/ Female Genital Mutilation: A Human Rights Violation A Case Study of Ethiopia. Ms. Shiyal is currently a Ph.D. student researching on Gender Inequality and Women’s Health: A Comparative Study of Ethiopia and India.

Sahiyo Volunteer Spotlight: Mariya Ali

 

Sahiyo is an organization with the mission to empower Asian communities to end female genital cutting through community collaboration, and this work could not be done without dedicated volunteers supporting us. To show our appreciation, Sahiyo would like to begin spotlighting those volunteers who have made invaluable contributions to our organization.

Mariya Ali is a U.K. based volunteer who has been with Sahiyo for over a year now. She is a mariyaaliproficient writer and has a fine eye for detail. To learn more about how she has supported our work, read her interview below.

1) When did you first get involved with Sahiyo?

I first got involved with Sahiyo in July 2015. A friend of mine spotted an article that I wrote on FGC and connected me with her cousin, who is a co-founder of Sahiyo.

2) What opportunities have you been involved with at Sahiyo?

I contribute to the putting together of the Sahiyo newsletter and I have written some articles that have been posted on the Sahiyo blog. I have also had the pleasure to meet other people who have the same passion as I do to end this practice.

3) How has your involvement impacted your life?

For many years I couldn’t really connect with anyone about what had happened to me – it was an unspoken event and a memory that I wasn’t able to understand. I’ve found a network of people who are supportive and understanding and we all have a common goal. I’ve found a forum where I can ask questions. I also feel like I am finally part of something that is making an impact and part of a collective voice that is finally being heard.

Working with Sahiyo has given me a deep sense of contentment. The pinnacle for me was when a friend of mine, who is a mother of two young girls, told me that through reading the articles that I shared, she had decided not to perform FGC on her daughters. Something as simple as sharing a post can have a significant impact.

4) What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting Sahiyo?

Don’t be afraid of speaking up. You may think that your voice is a whisper, but many voices together make a roar. Even if it is in your own home, break the taboo. This is not a private, personal issue; This is a violation of human rights.