Every part hurts--feet, trudging weeks from her village now stinking of corpses, burnt huts, and surviving kinfolk who drove her out. Neck cramping from the sack with her few belongings balanced on her head. Arms aching from the weight of a child butting her chest to nuzzle the dried breasts, his hunger howls joined by the newborn slung in a basket across her sore back.
But pelvis and belly are the core of greatest pain–the part of her the men took, laughing cursing beating, so many men, thirty, forty, so many times, ripping her open and plunging in again and again, shoving genitals, fists, sticks, guns into her as she begged and screamed. Soldiers, rebels, both did it, both. Then the child came. More pain. Then the baby. Pain. Each fathered by rape.
Then the child came. More pain. Then the baby. Pain.
Each fathered by rape.
That part of her oozes now, always leaking urine and feces. She smells. Ashamed, she scrubs herself raw. Still, people run from her–because she smells, she was raped, dared survive, is thought unclean, because she is a living wound of catastrophe. Her eyes run tears. She stumbles on. Her whole body leaks grief.
But she has come here, the place she heard about. Safety. Support. Maybe repair for torn flesh. Maybe skills taught toward a livelihood, school for the children. “Here” is like a heaven: Panzi Hospital.
Refuge. Food. Medicine. Education. Comparatively, they cost little, but they cost: only $3 a month sends a child to school; $630 pays for one woman’s reparative fistula surgery.