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Poem: For the mamas on the frontlines

"I said, if mamas don’t fight for the children, then who will?" Helen Knott performed her poem at the 2017 Nobel Women's Initiative conference. Catch up on 50.50's coverage.

Helen Knott
19 May 2017

I wrote this poem, For the mamas on the frontlines, when I was in a challenging space of darkness. It is a space I believe so many of us find ourselves in when engaged in activism and so my words came from a place of necessity but also from a strong belief in the power of action taken by individuals.

We have stood on front lines with our fists raised up on high we’ve flooded city streets in a collective stream heart to heart and side by side we have made ourselves allies offering up personal sacrifice we have filled up petition lines time after time... after time

We’ve seen movements because if mamas don’t fight for the children, then who will? swell, wax, wane, recede, and grow we have had our children in tow or sometimes have left them home explaining on bended knee,

Just why mama’s gotta leave because if mamas don’t fight for the children, then who will? I said, if mamas don’t fight for the children, then who will?

We’ve learned to navigate the political currents placing pressure on PMs, MPs and MLAs cabinet ministers, and deputies of whatever department keeps messing up some of us have broken man made laws and have gone and got ourselves arrested we have sat in vigil of our own some times our flickering candles we hold... are the only light we see

Yet we hold the belief that one day the darkness will have no choice but to recede we have stood in defense of lands, of waters, for our sons, for our daughters for something bigger than ourselves

No matter the historical struggle from which we rise

many of us have realized

we are in this together, and when we collectively defywe actively redefine... love

Sometimes that love gives us the ability to move mountainsand other times it gives us enough drive to persist for one more dayIn the face of any revolutionthere are many pauses, stalls, and startsthere are many tears, unspoken of fears, and the breaking of hearts

Sometimes if you listen hard enough you can actually hear it...the sound of your heart trying not to give up on itself

Because let’s be honest darling, sometimes fighting for change is a lot like putting yourself through hell
So what is it that makes us persist?

When its apparent that ignorance walks hand in hand with blissIs it because sometimes doing nothing just don’t sit right with the soul? or that we believe power is not absoluteand there is no submitting to those who appear to be in control?

Do we stand for treaties and promises made and broken long ago?

For the voiceless? For the choiceless? Or are we grounded by science or facts?

Perhaps our faith demands that we move to react?

Whichever it is, there is strength in our choice to stand together

One thing I do know for sure to be true and the giants that they speak of, well my dear they will be us is that I would not be standing and talking freely as I do if not for those who came before me because they did not admit defeat they stood grounded in what they believed they fought, they bled, they sacrificed and it is because of this that I can sleep at night knowing all of these actions are not done in vain because I stand on the shoulders of these giants and the next generation will one day say the same and the giants that they speak of, well my dear they will be us so never underestimate the power of your voice or the strength in a collective moving kind of love

The Nobel Women's Initiative conference took place in Germany 13-16 May. See 50.50's coverage of the event.

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