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 lineswith our fists raised up on highwe’ve flooded city streetsin a collective streamheart to heart and side by sidewe have made ourselves alliesoffering up personal sacrificewe have filled up petition linestime 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 growwe have had our children in towor sometimes have left them homeexplaining on bended knee,Just why mama’s gotta leavebecause 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 currentsplacing pressure on PMs, MPs and MLAscabinet ministers, and deputies of whatever department keeps messing upsome of us have broken man made laws and have gone and got ourselves arrestedwe have sat in vigil of our ownsometimes our flickering candles we hold... are the only light we seeYet we hold the belief that one day the darkness will have no choice but to recedewe have stood in defense of lands, of waters,for our sons,for our daughtersfor something bigger than ourselves

No matter the historical struggle from which we risemany of us have realizedwe are in this together, and when we collectively defywe actively redefine... loveSometimes 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 heartsSometimes if you listen hard enough you can actually hear it...the sound of your heart trying not to give up on itselfBecause 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 becausesometimes 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 usis that I would not be standing and talking freely as I doif not for those who came before mebecause they did not admit defeatthey stood grounded in what they believedthey fought, they bled, they sacrificedand it is because of this that I can sleep at nightknowing all of these actions are not done in vainbecause I stand on the shoulders of these giantsand the next generation will one day say the sameand the giants that they speak of, well my dear they will be usso never underestimatethe power of your voiceor 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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