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My birthday has come: reflections on 2013 VOF journey so far

The pain of labor engulfed me

This was labor like I had never seen before

My swollen heart was ready

My swollen head was ready

Perspiring heavily I heard the doctor tell me to hold on

“NOOOOOOOO” I screamed. It was time

I knew it. My neighbour entered the room and told me to be reasonable
Who was I to change the order of things? I almost gave in but then I thought quickly, if not me then who and I pushed again

The contractions were faster now and so were the doubts. Other women shunned me and told me not to be overzealous

“A child giving birth” they said. “She still has milk on her nose what does she know and what can she tell us?” A lot I thought as another contraction came.

The nurse was no better as she told me to behave otherwise I would kill my child. Oh I could feel my pregnant belly and I knew my child was alive and would live.

Then I was jolted to reality. I had to push, it was time my baby needed to be born and the time was now.

As I felt another contraction my aunt told me that I was too forward for a woman. Silence is a woman’s weapon she said. “Suffer in silence daughter of my brother. Do not embarrass us.” But why I asked should I be quiet.

Her words almost brought the baby out “because you are a woman, that’s why”. This was too much had my mother been told this same rhetoric to remain in a bad relationship? And my sister…

I was brought out of my reverie by the doctor’s sharp call to stop pushing. But I’m not pushing I said. The baby was due and would not be stopped. My life suddenly flashed before my eyes

I remembered being in a line, blood, yes embarrassment, menstruation, my friends taking drugs and family planning tablets to stop menstruation because their husbands hated it and they were scared they would be left. What kind of life was that? I saw my mother holding on to the last to her marriage for what would she be called if she divorced my dad, my aunt being thrashed in front of the whole neighbourhood and never reporting it once. Had my uncle not said that he would leave any woman who dared report him to the police? But she was injured. She could not go to the hospital because they wanted a police report first. Then the next thing she was gone. Beaten to death by her husband. a man who had said he loved her. No justice for her. “She deserved it”, some whispered “such a stubborn woman, did she think she was a man.” My heart went out to -scream -another violent contraction had come and I was powerless to stop it- I almost wept. The time was now but the doctor and nurses shook their heads. Not yet, not yet but the baby is coming I screamed.” No” they said. This is not your time. You have forgotten your place. My mind went back to a colleague who committed suicide because of a domestic issue, my neighbour’s niece raped and denied justice, scarred and afraid to walk because of a man who now walked scot free, girls subdued to silence who would never see the light of empowerment, who would leave regressing into the past. I could see the extinction of women and empty shells replacing the warm women I knew, hardworking, resilient hopeful, loving. But how could I help.

With all my strength I screamed and everyone almost jumped out of their skins. Yes I needed to give them voice, I screamed much louder and I knew my baby had arrived. My birthday had come, my voice had been found and yes that day I knew the work ahead of me but the first step had been made. My birthday had come, my voice had been born. I live now for a society where women are treated equally, given equal opportunities, educated and empowered. thirty one powerful, unstoppable voices born!

We are the voices of our future. We have been born, we have a voice. We will stand up for our rights and the rights of all marginalised women in our societies until they also find their voices and offer solutions for change.
Whilst reading the 2013 VOF assignments just realised that the issues being brought out are crucial and will change the paradigm. The best part is there is hope, solutions are there. We can change the world one step at a time and together we will finish the journey, one teaspoonful at a time and together we will move the mountains or create them, one drop at a time and together we will fill the oceans.


Phionah Musumba's picture


Hello Pelamutunzi,
Am so moved by the power of your pen. I only got one word for you: strength. Your resilience is amazing! Wow!
All the best in all you touch,

Phionah Musumba
Founder/Executive Director
Malkia Foundation &
Centre for Disadvantaged Girls, Kenya
P.O Box 9461 - 00300,
Nairobi, Kenya
Facebook: Phionah Musumba
Twitter: @KenyaGals
LinkedIn: Phionah Musumba
Skype: phionah.anguzuzu.musumba

pelamutunzi's picture

thank you

Thanks phy. I have closely followed your stories of hope too and your passion for the education of girls. This is how I feel but I think all the thirty one women taking part in VOF 2013 feel the same way.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.

Debra Engle's picture

This is an extraordinary

This is an extraordinary description of your journey and your process, Pela. You have given birth to your Self, and the world will be a much better place because of it. You have the unique ability to bring insight, love, compassion and wisdom to your community, your country and human beings everywhere. Thank you for sharing the birth of the powerful being you are!

pelamutunzi's picture

you humble me

Thank you so much. Having thought about how to write this, its how I have been feeling since the programme started. I feel I have been born. And thanks to you I am growing big and healthy(smiling).

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.

JOYOUS's picture


You have given your voice life and many are waiting to hear your message. Thank you for sharing you gift - I have truly been inspired......

Make it a "JOYOUS" Day!

pelamutunzi's picture


am happy you were inspired. thank you for reading .
it is indeed a "joyous" day

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.

Usha RS's picture

Creative and powerful.

Pela, I am honored to read your process. May your voice be blessed with healing energy. May you bring love and justice and solutions with your wise voice. May women everywhere experience this birthing of their powerful generative voices and shine the light of truth into the world. I am energized to read this message today. Sister, you are a visionary.
Blessings on your path and feeling very blessed by your writing.
Usha xx

Let your light shine!

pelamutunzi's picture

thank you

im also honored that you found this inspiring. it means a lot . lets continue supporting each other and shining.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.

anab87j9's picture

Moved and speechless...

I find myself at your doorstep! Your story is deep and touching beyond my words' ability to explain. "But why I asked should I be quiet? " This line struck me deep because I ask it everday, only to be faced with the same ugly answer "because I am a woman". Silent no more we are!
Roar louder my dear! Scream loud and clear! Let the whole world hear!

Much love, and respect dear Pelamutunzi!


pelamutunzi's picture

never to be quiet again

thank you knowing that someone also feels the way i do is inspiring. together we can change things and give women a voice. silent no more my sister we will scream until our voices are heard

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.

lynnemhealy's picture


The power of what you have liberated in this writing has reverberated throughout human consciousness and impacted all women everywhere. I am in awe of your courage and that of all the women sharing this journey.

Love always,

Lynne Healy

pelamutunzi's picture


im so touched. thank you. this journey is truly amazing and liberating glad i can get my voice out there.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.

Precious M's picture

Oh Pela!

This is an absolutely beautiful description of the VOF journey.
You deserve to be here.
I enjoyed reading every bit of this.
Thank you for sharing!


My pen speaks

pelamutunzi's picture

thank you

and thank you to you too precious m. i hope my sentiments also echo your experiences on this journey. i have read most of the assignments and god we are a wonderful group doing amazing things

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Screaming Along With You

Dear Pelamutunzi,

Your story is so vividly unjust and exquisitely painful, as I read it I could feel myself inwardly screaming along with you, a primal scream for fairness, for the slow, agonizing birth of new life as old, wretched, cruel customs die, die!

Your scream, your VOICE, is already making a difference and your story opens many eyes.

I wish you peace and joy, which you so sorely deserve,



pelamutunzi's picture

thank you

oh sarah im speechless. your words echo my true sentiments exactly. im glad you found the time to read. and i pray that im able to make an even bigger difference.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture


Dear Pela,

Have no doubt, you ARE making a difference.

I am honored to have read your piece.

With Love,



My stomach tightens.

My breath freezes.

My voice quiets.

I am transported to a place where I hear the voices of agony and triumph. I see blood and birth. I feel pain and cautious joy.

Now I can breathe. Now I can see. There is a new life, and she will change her world!

Let us Hope together-
aka: Cali gal


pelamutunzi's picture

just how i feel

yes i know i will change mt world. this birthing process was very important and symbolical for me. i am a new person because of this experience. so good to hear from you

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.

Potter's picture

Ah, Pela, You've Done It Again

Why is it that your work always moves me to tears? The entire VOF community salutes you on your birthday. Let there be cake and ice cream, dancing in the streets and loud choruses of appreciation for you, your voice and your vision.

pelamutunzi's picture

wow good to hear from you

it is absolutely wonderful to hear from you. thank you for your kind words and comments. there is just so much celebrating this birthday. i know i can make an impact and this process has been invaluable.
how are you. did you receive my messages. hope to link with you soon via email.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.

Ayunnie's picture

Too Powerful

Pela this is absolutely imaginative. I read through this article and I was moved beyond explanation. Keep up the good work dear.

@ Nairobi KENYA
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