Running at standstill

I met a woman who had made it across the border. Across DRC, across Uganda and into Kenya. On foot. Fleeing. With nothing on her except the clothes she wore.

She now lives in Umoja.

She was pregnant last year.

She went into labour and asked for help at a city council hospital.

They turned her way.

She is tall, has a beautiful face and long dark hair. As she tells me her story through her interpreter, I look at her.

Who was she before she started running?

What was her favorite food?

Did she like earrings?

What did she imagine she would grow up to be?

I look at her hands.

What have they held?

Have they wiped tears from her eyes?

I thought about what it is like (could be like) to run. To be a woman on the run with no money. I thought about how quickly as a woman, my body becomes a commodity. How it becomes a political battle ground for some men. How I would lose it to the countless faces who demanded it.

She speaks a local dialect of DRC.

When the city council hospital turned her away last year, she tried to make it home.

She gave birth on the side of the road.

In Umoja.

To a child who will not gain Kenyan citizenship.


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