Changing traditions in Zambia

Matilda is a mother of seven children. She is an Alangizi or traditional adviser in Manukwa Health Centre, Chipata district, Zambia. 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.” She takes young people, but particularly young girls through initiation rites and also provides advice to members of the community.

"I have the right to teach my own children good health, how to prevent getting STIs and HIV."

— Matilda

The Young Happy Healthy and Safe (a community-based organisation) trained her on adolescents HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights by. This is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC).

Family matters

Matilda’s training 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.”

Matilda’s daughter became pregnant when she was just 16 and had a son who is now one year old. “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 she was able to advise young pregnant girls on their full range of options. “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.”