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It is so beautiful to lie down on the wet grass on your back and look up at the blue skies over my village.This has been my favourite game since I started noticing my gives me the feeling of lying on top of the world and being very close to god....if i extend my arms im sure they will touch the huge deeply blue heaven above.....(do you think heaven is blue??..)...and i could really feel the spherical mother earth beneath me...breathing the pains ,injustice,destruction and all the slime of the human race!..
Today, this favourite pastime of mine is even more special....although somewhat bitter....because im celebrating my freedom from the clutches of an old own ghost which haunted me for so long....but is now buried right here...where it first appeared in my life!!
My name is from a small village in the far western region of darfur fact our village is among those very near the border with chad...and our people mainly live in the beautiful highlands of the marra mountain....the second highest peak in africa after kalaminjaro.
I come from an average, family of related parents and im the third among my my nine siblings.It was known across our village that radya was the loner who was always seen straying from the line of girls carrying wood and water from the nearby stream to go and lie on her back for hours on the grass staring at nothing! mother was adviced endlessly by the gossipy neighbours to take me to the "faky" in the nearby town of cast away the evil spirits from my soul...but she always answered that i was ok.
Like all the girls ..i was circumcised at the age of eight by my grandmother-the midwife- with a whole genital organ was severed and only a small hole left...and a great celebration was carried out with nuggara dancing and lots of money were put under my pillow.of course,i felt happy being the centre of attention, especially that i was given a silver"hijil" -ankle bracelet- to be worn all my life as a mark for a circumcised girl. but it was a bittersweet type of happiness....bittered by pain,confusion and shameful bloody memories!
The night of my circumcision party was the darkest,moonless night i can ever recall...i fought the excruciating pain while trying to void and was horrfied to see the amount of blood coming from my wound...i came from our toilet - a hole in the ground at the far end of our compound- shaken by the pain and barely able to walk....helped by my mother who was telling me that i was a woman now...and must always suffer in silence ...because my life will be filled with pain!!!....i saw my father sitting outside the hut counting the money happily and not even looking up to console me ! was a defining moment for me... something inside me was destroyed and rebelled forcefully .In my childish mind i knew i couldnt stay there any longer and started then my plan for escape!...i knew that there was a possibility that the world was just like this village ..but i had to try...i had to look for a life without the razor,the blood and the pain my mom was talking about!!......
Three months later, i looked back to have a last glimpse of my village...and all i saw was my mother's tears as she stood there...knowing what was on my mind,but never screaming for the men of the village to come after me...!!i ran..faster than the wind...with all my might...chased by the midwife's ghost...and the fear from a miserable future filled with silent pain and suffering!..taking with me only the silver hijil...
Oooh! It was an awfully long journey..looking for my lost soul and the dreams of a joyful future...and escaping from my ghost...from one refugee camp to another...from one UN camp to the next ....and then from one school to the other .... with my tea-making tools on my back , my hijil tight around my ankle....and my story fresh in mind. I went looking for the real radya....isolated by my miserable memories ..seeking redemption in the books...and working like a possessed soul in the camps day and night....avoiding any freindly contact from those approaching me...
Then....KHARTOUM....the institute for female teachers...women from all over sudan.Proud,joyful,grateful to be there , outgoing, creative and very was there that i realised that the majority had undergone the same brutal procedure of female genital mutilation and some of them had more severe physical problems than the ones i was was mahasin from abu hamad who casually told me one night that she was afarid for her younger sisters back home that brought my long-dormant mind back to life...!!!!!!!
I started looking at myself and scrutiniz ing my choices. and for the first time i snapped from the peacefull stream of the UN plans for migrant women and looked at myself closely....i was truly horrified to see a selfish,careless,rootless young woman who was running away as far as she can from her grass roots ..not caring about anything but starting a tasteless life in the city...and for the first time in years i heard the cries of hundreds of little girls in my village awaiting my return...and yearned to be held again in the warmth of my mother's chest and tell her what i have acheived...and amazingly, my future suddenly became so clear in my mind...and i felt the heavy weight of the stone between my legs -which i carried for so long- lifted gradually from my troubled mind.
In the following months i became restless with anticipation...i planned ,worked and studied like a mad woman to get my certificate as a teacher...and knocked all UN plus local NGO doors to get aid for my project...i wrote proposal after another ...until my efforts were rewarded.
Today, here i am, 12 years after fleeing my village...lying on my favourite spot...staring at the same blue sky and happily knowing that my hijil is buried underneath the earth on this very same spot....and contentedly waiting to hear the bell summoning my students for the first school for girls and illetrate women in my village...FOUNDED BY RADYA!!.......
to live a prisoner of your wounded body all your life will just deepen your scars and deplete your soul of the liveliness which could make a better tomorrow.....and to walk around chained by the heavy stone between your legs will just bind tighter and heavier chains around your mind!!



jap21's picture

What an example, you are awesome

Radya is working to make a better world possible. Please keep it up. I bow to you and your hard work. It takes a lot from onself to overcome the pain and do something like this. It is very inspiring.

Thank you for posting it.



Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America

fatma's picture

yes,truly inspiring!

dear jackie,
thank you for your kind words ..radya is a girl from the For tribes in western sudan. i met her many years ago while prepearing my research on FGM during my final year of college.she accomodated our group of students who visited the area in her famous school.(i changed the name as i didnt take her consent to publish the story).
she is an example for a true fighter for a better future for women in her region...and has defied all social norms and broken one unjust rule after the other and even married a foreigner who worked for the UN in the region...they were both living in darfur when i met her.
truly inspiring....!!

asha's picture

Free body...Free mind

As much as I liked the story, I liked the title.....It is absolutely true that a free mind emancipates the body that carries it from all ailments and inhibitions..I wish your highle effective story reaches people in communities where women 'to be' still suffer from parental ignorance of such freedom...
Hail to you Fatma... and to all the Fatmas who are fighting for a better life.
Stay Free


fatma's picture


dear asha...
thank you for the nice comment...girls and young women in sudan suffer greatly because of the deep social boundaries upon thier bodies...and the taboos which are so rigid....but i think we can overcome all this by freedom of though ,exoression and free minds.....
Hail to you for understanding my point...especially being from that same background...SUDAN...
stay close

asha's picture

Then Hail to Women in Sudan!

I am not surprized you call yourself Fatma...Do you know that some tribes in Sudan and Chad call all the girls in the family (Fatma)? Followed by(awwalo) meaning first, and (taneyo) meaning second and so on. Symbolism in some Arab and African cultures features strongly it seems, not only in the poetry and folktales but goes further to other aspects of life. However, it makes a point that a member of World Pulse community called 'Shiraz' writes under the name Fatma -let us say- reference not only to a prophetic member of a family, but also to stress the point i made earlier of togetherness...and woman for life.
God Bless


JaniceW's picture

Inspiring and powerful

Shiraz, you have touched me so profoundly with your powerful description of this journey. I grew up in a country where such practices do not exist and so although I can empathize with Radya, I cannot even begin to comprehend her pain, her fight, and the thoughts that went through her mind each step of this path. I am so grateful that you have shared this with us so that we can begin to appreciate the challenges and issues facing women in Sudan every day. When one reads these stories in the news, it's easy to read it as just another news story but you have brought a personal touch to the issue of FGM and through it, we hear the cries of Radya, feel her pain and read anxiously as she travels from one refugee camp to the next looking for hope.

As Sudanese women, you are intimidated into being silent and invisible yet when you are given a voice, you have the ability to transform lives. With the school, more minds will be set free and slowly but surely, the ties that bind women to these practices will be broken. I look forward to reading more from you as you inform us about life in Sudan. Thank you for sharing this story.
PulseWire Community Director

fatma's picture

sudanese women

dear janice,
thank you for the comment and your deep understanding for radya's story....
its your comment about sudanese women that really affected me are rules which are sometimes stronger than religion can be quite intimidating....but when you look into the history of women movement in sudan and the fact that it dated back to the early 1940's you will realise that these are women who are able to stand up for thier rights and break all social boundaries and discrimination....thats why i chose the minds come from free bodies...
i think if we stay prisoners to our physical scars we can never rise above the drakness and ignorance and we can never reach justice....for its women only who can fight forcefully for thier rights!!
thank you again.....and you will definitely see a lot of me around

JaniceW's picture

Powerful words

"If we stay prisoners to our physical scars we can never rise above the darkness"

Shiraz, that is such a powerful and inspiring statement for all women in any situation. I am so happy you have joined our PulseWire family as you provide such insightful, compelling stories of life in Sudan. I applaud your efforts on the ground and your strong desire to raise your voice on behalf of the unheard. It is an honour to have met you. Peace,

Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Radya, You are a brave

Dear Radya,

You are a brave and couargeous woman. What makes u truly wondwerful is that u have come back to ur place to ensure that no one suffers any more. That is a hell of an effort. I hope no more such incidents are occuring atleast in ur village. I pray this custom dies its deserved death.

Lots of Love and Best Wishes


fatma's picture

yes,great effort indeed!

dear nusrat,
its very reassuring to see such support and solidarity with our pains and agony...the problem of FGM still rises as the number one health issue for women in sudan ...its sad...but we are determined to work and fight for the sake of conquering our physical pains and scars and acheive justice for our kind.
radya has really made a great effort to be where she is today.i wrote in her tongue as her story really touched me...she represents millions of sudanese women but with the difference of not letting herself be buried under the heavy weight of social discrimmination and physical scarring by FGM.....she is a true inspiration to me....and thousands of other young women today in my country....god bless her!!

aliĝngix's picture


I just wanted to say that what you did is really good, creating a school and being their teacher, overcoming something terrible to be an example to others, sharing your knowledge and most important things of all, finding the real Radya and liking yourself again. Big cheer and hugs.

fatma's picture

overcoming the past!!

dear aligngix:
thanks for the warm support for radya..the heroine for my story....she is a tru example....
overcoming what happened to her and translating it into a great useful action the way she did was so strong and inspiring....
thanks again
my name is from sudan....where more than 90% still suffer from FGM...
i write under the nickname fatma...
i hope to see you online

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