By: Habiba Cooper Diallo
Taken from: http://whatsonafrica.org/habiba-cooper-diallo-why-i-wrote-a-childrens-book-about-fistulas/
NOVEMBER 12, 2015
When writing the story, I thought carefully about the character development of Yeshialem who is the protagonist. I wanted her to have a Pan-African outlook, which I find so relevant to our times considering the ethnic tensions and nationalism that is prevalent in many African communities and the legacies of the Berlin Conference (1884-1885) that are still felt today. Yeshialem’s intercultural insights weave us together. She is Ethiopian in the story— still, she is at once a Nigerien, a Libyan, a Rwandese, a Sudanese—and her sense of belonging to various cultures is not at all in contradiction to her national identity (Ethiopian). In the story, I have reflected Yeshi’s sense of multiculturalism in her clothing, her linguistic capability and in her ability to challenge herself to go outside of her comfort zone which is evidenced in her epic journey from Ethiopia to Niger in the west and back. I deliberately gave her gold hoop earrings that are typical among Fulani women in Mali.
The more I talk to people about fistula, is the more I realize how important it is to share knowledge about the condition. I am extremely motivated by the gasps, winces, and cringes of audiences when I explain the consequences of this heart-rending affliction that causes so many African women to suffer in silence and at times to die in vain.
Fistula patients have a struggle to overcome their affliction and regain their autonomy. I like to think of advocacy around fistula as my part of the struggle in ending the affliction. I do it through the creative—through storytelling.
Read the full article at: http://whatsonafrica.org/habiba-cooper-diallo-why-i-wrote-a-childrens-book-about-fistulas/
Habiba Cooper Diallo
I am a Canadian fistula advocate and blogger, and the founder of the Women’s Health Organization International, WHOI. I have been doing fistula awareness-building in Canada for the past 9 years. My work on fistula has led me to Guinea, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. I have been featured in Forbes, the HuffPost, and UNFPA