1000 Days of Motherhood

by Lifeline Energy
1000 Days of Motherhood

Project Report | Oct 30, 2015
The Glory Listening Group can't wait until Friday

By Kristine Pearson | CEO: Lifeline Energy

The Glory listening group
The Glory listening group

I met Proper, the mother of two small children, while on my recent trip to Zambia to visit our projects there. She’s a member of the “Glory” listening group, which gathers together each Friday morning under the generous shade of a mango tree to listen to what they’ve named “Counsellor” – our Lifeplayer.  “We yearn for Friday to come to listen to the Counsellor. We call it that because gives us very helpful advice”, she said with a smile. Proper lives just outside a district town in western Zambia,which is particularly hot and dusty at this time of year.  Most of the women here are subsistence farmers or, like Proper, sellers of fruits and vegetables. And everyone is anxious for the rains, which are due to fall any time now.

“What have you learned from listening to the Lifeplayer?” was one of the many questions I asked the women (and two men) of the Glory mother’s group.  The answers came fast: “how to breastfeed correctly”, “that I must breastfeed for at least six months”, “what I must do if my baby has a fever”, “that I must take my baby to the clinic if she is sick”, “what to do if my baby has a blocked nose”. Heartbreakingly, some of the women had lost children because they hadn’t known what to do when their babies were ill.  What the women appreciate about the Lifeplayer is that they can listen and re-listen to the health and nutrition programmes when it suits them, as well as radio programmes.  And if a woman can’t make the Friday discussion, she can listen to that week’s programme at her convenience, so she’s prepared for the next discussion.  

When I asked the Glory group of 25 or so women, all dressed in Chitengie, or traditional colourful African cotton cloth, how many had a radio at home, six raised their hands.  They don’t listen often, however, due to the high cost of batteries, which are about $.50 for a pair. Justin, one of the two fathers in the group, said he had a radio and listened when he was relaxing.  We all had a good laugh at the thought of a woman relaxing.  Their work is never done. When I asked about cell phones, only about half owned one.  No one listened to the radio on their phones. 

I also enquired as to what other programmes the women would like to hear. Apart from the 1000 Days of Motherhood content from the National Food and Nutrition Council (NFNC), they wanted literacy programmes, they wanted to learn how to “make” a business, and they wanted more information on how to care for livestock as many owned cows or goats.

During my time in Zambia I visited a number of women’s listening groups. Each group started small and has grown. One started with 20 and has now split into two groups with 25 participants each, sharing one Lifeplayer.  What struck me so forcibly is the sense of social cohesion and interdependency among the women in these communities. Coming together in a listening group each Friday to support one another and to share what little they have forms a natural extension of community life for women like Proper; and it’s why they so look forward to their Friday meetings.

As always, when I return from visiting Zambia, I feel re-inspired and motivated to do everything I can to bring Lifeplayers to women who have a profound desire to continue to learn. 

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Organization Information

Lifeline Energy

Location: Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa
Project Leader:
Kristine Pearson
Cape Town , South Africa

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