I Carry Life not Shame!

The energy of life rests in my womb

Within me manifest the miracles of creation

A seedling of inspiration

Blooming into creative force

My womb

It is not my prison

It is not my tomb


Shun me not because of poverty

Nor since odour wreaks

Faeces leaks

Through the hole that has found a home on me

Remember, Incontinence does not define my dignity


Young, I married

Raped, I was

I am poor


Four days tried

Labor obstructed

Fistula became I

Thirty years counted


Baby is gone


Pelvis jam

Husband gone


Tears break dam



Shun me not because of ineligibility

To that enjoyed by the privileged

Nor since I cannot free

What inside me has been caged

Remember, Incontinence does not govern my nobility


Birth canal, torn

Vagina-bladder-rectum divide, gone

All waste now pass through the same

But Remember, I Carry Life not Shame


This poem honours the experiences of thousands of Ethiopian women and girls who have had a fistula and lived for years WITHOUT access to adequate medical attention but WITH plenty of social and psychological hardships. A fistula is a hole in the birth passage, often times induced by obstructed labour but also from sexual violence, resulting in permanent incontinence of urine and/or faeces. Imagine dripping urine and faeces all day beyond your control. Imagine being ostracized by your family and community because of a problem you cannot control. Yet this is the reality of approximately 100,000 women and girls in Ethiopia, some of whom do not access re-constructive surgery until many years later. And it is estimated that the number increases by 9,000 each year.

This poem is to honour their perseverance in light of their burden.


Love & Light

One thought on “I Carry Life not Shame!

  1. This broke my heart – ripped it to shreds – stomped on the remains.

    I have read about this subject before and was appalled by the cruelty and lack of compassion for these woman.

    You gave every single girl/woman a voice – and now I grieve for each one as an entity living in pain and isolation.

    Thank you

    They should all be able to use their voice – they should all be able to speak of the pain and the heartbreak and the isolation they have been subjected to through their abuse and neglect.

    Thank you for coming forward and speaking for them.

    I listened.



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