Jennifer Mwale, 46, is a traditional healer in the Chibuluma township of the Kitwe District, Zambia. She lives with her husband, a farmer, and five children that range in age from five to 21.
Healing is a proud tradition in Jennifer’s family. When Jennifer’s Grandfather died he appeared to her in a dream. He asked her to follow in his footsteps and to begin a life of healing others. Jennifer learned her trade through visions and dreams that lead her to create remedies using leaves, roots and tree barks.
Jennifer explains that she often “treated people with symptoms of persistent cough and weight loss with an herbal remedy made from the root of the ‘Mussessa’ tree. I did not realise that they could have TB.”
In 2012, Jennifer was approached by a community worker from TB Alert’s COTHAZ project, who enrolled her on a five day TB training programme at a training centre in Kitwe. Today, Jennifer recognises the symptoms of TB and understands that the person with such symptoms needs to go to the nearest clinic for diagnosis and treatment. She refers all her clients with similar symptoms to the clinic and doesn’t try to treat them herself.
“There are fewer people dying of TB in our community now and I feel happy about it,” says a smiling Jennifer.