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Volunteer spotlight: Jessica Ladi Ibrahim Puri

Jessica is a Ph.D. candidate at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, and an instructor for Field Studies in Public Health at Northwestern University. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Loyola University and a Master of Public Health from DePaul University. Jessica’s research interests are in adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and gender-based violence. She volunteers as a writer and researcher for Sahiyo, serves on the steering committee for the WE STOP FGM/C Chicago initiative, and volunteers with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at Northwestern and Loyola Universities. She is married to her best friend, who now finds himself talking about (female genital cutting) FGC with strangers on airplanes.

What was your experience of learning about FGC for the first time like?

Difficult. I grew up in Northern Nigeria, where I knew child brides, escaped religious wars, and survived typhoid and malaria several times. So it was shocking to realize I had missed something so persistent in my country. I learned about it through an article I read in a college course at Loyola University in Chicago. I was initially upset because I thought it was just another Western publication writing about how terrible an African country was. Then I realized it was written by scholars from the state I grew up in. Further conversations with my parents, aunts, and uncles confirmed that I had friends who experienced FGC. They were just too ashamed to talk about it on the playground. I decided from that time to work to create a safe space for survivors to thrive and for those at risk to grow in safety.

Learn more about Jessica’s work with Sahiyo here.

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