Fatuma Ibrahim before January 6, 2016 was a mother of four in Korof Harar, deep inside Wajir on the north eastern side of Kenya.

However, her husband changed this narrative on that sixth day of the year.

He stabbed her.

On her thigh.

On her leg.

On her chin.

On her right cheek and when he tried to pull out the 10-inch knife, but it was stuck.

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Ms Fatuma Ibrahim at Wajir Airport, shortly before her medical evacuation on January 7, 2016. Photo/Eunice Kilonzo

The rusty knife with a rugged handle went through her head on her right cheek and almost popped out a short distance from her left eye.

But it didn’t.

It stayed there from 5.30pm that Wednesday when he attacked her, was still there when she was taken to hospital at 2am.

Wajir Referral Hospital would not move it either otherwise, she would have “bled internally and suffocated in her own blood.”

That’s what her attending doctor said.

Our paths crossed on Thursday at around 5pm. I was part of three other journalists who had gone to airlift her to Nairobi where she would get the Intensive Care treatment she required. Nearly two hours away from her home, away from her children and away from the man, who had put her in this place. With a knife sticking out of her now swollen face.

She was very still during the flight.

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Ms Fatuma Ibrahim airborne heading to Nairobi aboard the Amref Flying Doctors plane. On her right is nurse Charles Atemba from Amref. Photo/Eunice Kilonzo

She did not move.

She did not cry.

Only half-way in the flight did she say her legs were paining.

The in-flight doctor raised her legs, dressed her wounds and gave her something for the pain.

Then I saw the scars on her thighs.

Shiny patches of skin that had once been smooth but now held reminders of previous attacks.

I began to reason maybe, just maybe, they are tribal or beauty marks or large birthmarks.

Maybe?

She would not talk to confirm or allay my fears, so I let it pass.

We got to Nairobi at 8pm, into a waiting ambulance where she was rushed to Kenyatta National Hospital.

About four hours later, she was wheeled to theater and the lodged knife removed.

By morning, she was up and talking to visitors.

Her husband was arraigned in court and he said his wife, Fatuma, wanted to commit suicide and “he was trying to help her.”

Nine days later with several trauma counseling sessions in-between, Fatuma was fit to be discharged from Kenyatta National Hospital.

I was fortunate to meet her before she left ward 5A.

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A few minutes before being discharged. Photo/Eunice Kilonzo

Then she smiled.

And I saw the missing front teeth. Probably four or three.

“He knocked them out in a previous fight,” she said through a translator.

“He has beaten me not ten or twenty times, several times: I don’t know how many.”

She smiled some more when she walked into the waiting ambulance that would take her out of the hospital.

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The husband Mohammed Deq on the other hand was still in police custody.

I called my mother and we discussed about Fatuma and she asked me: But where will she go?

My friend and editor, Zipporah Musau, asked: “But where will she go? Back to the same home where she was stabbed? Where she had endured so much violence? Is she safe there?

These questions stung me: Where will she go?

Those who came to discharge her said they would take her to relatives, away from her home but back to her children.

Where will Ms Fatuma Ibrahim (really) go? She has no Identification Card, she has no skills and she is unemployed.

Where will she go?

 

For more information read here, here and here.

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