Writing the Script for their Future: Meet Agness and Bupe

December 22, 2021 • Family Planning, Health Services, Reproductive Health, Serial Dramas, Zambia, News

Close up of couple holding handsClose up of couple holding hands

Navigating how to build a life together as a couple is always complicated. Most young adults are faced with several hard decisions – how to make a living, if and when to have children, and how to balance everything in between. Agness and Bupe, like so many others, have been faced with these very real choices.

Agness, 25 years old, dropped out of school as a teenager. Like many young girls in rural areas, the financial hardship of attending school often gets in the way of education. Today, she and her husband, 27-year-old Bupe, have a business selling charcoal out of their home. Agness and Bupe are at their strongest when they’re acting together, both focusing on their work and providing for the family.

Agness and Bupe had their first two children back-to-back in 2018 and 2019 without taking any recovery time or allowing Agness to focus on work. According to a misconception in their region, men should keep their wives pregnant as often as possible, so they are not appealing to other men. Additionally, the busier women are with children, the less likely they are to “misbehave or become promiscuous.” Unfortunately, myths and misconceptions like this prevent contraceptive use around the world.

Zambian family sit for a photo against a brick background. Aggnes and her boys sit on the ground, Bupe sits up on a small yellow chair

Agness, Bupe, and their children.

It’s well past time for people to be inspired to write their own stories beyond the patriarchal subjugation of women’s reproductive self-determination.

At Population Media Center, our teams are trained in the art and science of storytelling to shift beliefs and actions – beliefs like those faced by Agness and Bupe.

In 2019, Agness started to listen to Kwishilya (“Over the Horizon”), a radio show produced by PMC-Zambia with support from USAID.

“I will be honest, the first time I listened to the story, it was a little difficult for me because I felt like they were talking about me, but again, that’s what also kept me listening because I was curious to know how the story, ‘my story,’ would end,” shared Agness.

A woman sits in front of a brick wall to be interviewed by a man next to her. The interviewer holds a smarphone close to the woman's face to record their conversation.

Agness during an interview conducted by PMC-Zambia.

What Agness was feeling was intentional. Our storytelling methodology is intentionally designed to make characters “real,” dynamic people who resonate with audiences. Meaning listeners like Agness get to witness characters face similar choices and learn vicariously – seeing how they navigate challenges.

As the audience gains knowledge, new attitudes, and confidence to change behavior, impact is amplified to their social circles.

Agness eventually convinced Bupe to listen to Kwishilya  with her, setting the scene for critical conversations in their marriage.

“Listening to the show together made it easier to have a conversation about spacing children using more modern forms of family planning,” said Agness. “Because of the happenings in Kwishilya, there were no misunderstandings. We both had all the information.”

The couple discussed how they wanted to move forward with their family and what was next for them. Then, they started making decisions together, like the co-stars they are in their own life story. They made appointments at a health facility as a couple for family planning services and waited almost two years before having their third child.

“I’m looking forward to our future with the knowledge we have acquired from the show and our health provider,” shared Agness when asked about her family.

Beyond her family’s health, it’s clear that Agness has seen other positive impacts from listening to Kwishilya – including more equality in her relationship and a more robust economic outlook for their business.

“I’m hopeful that our family situation will improve economically, seeing as we will have time to grow our business together. Instead of my husband being the main provider and decision-maker when I was either pregnant or looking after an infant, I’m here to contribute too,” declared Agness.

It’s clear Kwishilya  is uplifting listeners like Agness and Bupe, and that’s why the pair hope others join them in listening to the program.

“I would also like to encourage those that haven’t listened to the drama, and might be going through the same predicament as me, to listen. I have faith that it will improve their lives the way it has mine,” said Agness.

 


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