Matilda is a mother of seven children. Her daughter became pregnant when she was just 16 and had a son who is now 1 year old. She is an Alangizi or traditional adviser in Manukwa Health Centre, Chipata district, Zambia. Matilda takes young people, but particularly young girls through initiation rites. She also provides advice to members of the community.
She has been trained by the Young Happy Healthy and Safe, which is a community based organisation (CBO) and partner of Alliance Zambia, on adolescents, HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights. This is part of the SDC funded project.
She explains “An Alangizi is someone who gives information to people about their health and their living. We try to see what we can do to help people. We teach the young girls who go through puberty, how to handle a man and we give them information. We tell them what is good and what is not for the girl going for marriage.”
Matilda’s training has had an impact on her own family life, “The big difference since the training is that I now know that even I have the right to teach my own children good health, how to prevent getting STIs and HIV. I have that freedom now to talk to them about it now... because I was trained.”
“When my daughter got pregnant I didn’t blast her” Matilda says, “I explained to her that what she had done was not good, and I said, ‘I want you to go back to school, finish your school and you get a job and then you will be a free person and when you have your own job then you will be ok’”
“I am taking care of the baby. She left him with me when he was just a month and two weeks old and now he is one year six months.”
Matilda explains that after the training things changed, she is now able to advise young girls on the full range of options they have if they become pregnant. “Before it was something that parents would get confused about and say a young pregnant girl should get married to the man who had made her pregnant but now we know, we have learned to do things differently.”