She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “There is no other time that I feel on the top of the world then when a childless couple conceives after years of trying”.
She says also: “I have kept my vision alive through determination and dependence on God, because it isn’t easy. It’s difficult to deal with people, as there is nothing for free mentality”.
Felister and Prince Chinthunzi – Malawi
She works for Fasu Consultancy and Maternal Life International (FAMLI).
Felister Chinthunzi (50) is a trainer of trainers in natural family planning, reproductive health and HIV/Aids with FAMLI, a community-based non-governmental organization in Lilongwe. She heads the training service, sensitizing women on sexual abstinence before marriage and fidelity to avoid HIV infection. She is currently organising a community orphan care center for over 60 children.
“A happy family is but an early heaven.” Felister likes to quote John Bowring.
If all families had proper family planning methods and lived happily with each other, she would retire happily. She heads training at FAMLI, an organization that focuses on family planning and marriage counseling in Malawi. Since 1985, she has worked tirelessly in training families in natural family planning methods.
Thousands of women have changed their attitudes towards contraception through her efforts. Felister’s work has turned the misery of marriage and child bearing into healthy and happy homes. In her 20 years of work, Felister places lack of resources as a number one challenge.
She was born in 1954 in the small village of Chiphaso in Kasungu District about 100 km north of the Malawian capital Lilongwe. She went to Likuni Girls’ Secondary School and later joined a teacher training college. She received certification the same year she got married at the age of 25.
One week into her marriage, Felister was pregnant! Instead of bringing joy to the family, Felister’s first baby brought conflict: it had come too soon. Felister was torn between attending to her baby and her husband. He began staying away from home. Tired of the conflict, she thought of leaving but stayed on, ready to endure her challenges.
Exactly three months after her first baby was born, Felister was pregnant again! She was in a dilemma. How would she cope, attending to her pregnancy, a 3-month-old baby and her husband? Confused, she sank into a depression and lost her unborn baby.
“The pressure was too much,” she remembers. She decided to try birth control contraception. But her experience with contraceptives was not a relief. “Contraceptives brought more harm than good”. She had many complications. Her teaching job suffered terribly. So did her family.
With help from a nun, Felister tried natural family planning and it worked. It enabled her to space her children three years apart. Things were now under control. She decided to share her knowledge with other women. This marked the beginning for her vocation.
Her campaign earned her a reputation and more people were seeking her counsel. Her church noticed her impact on families and formalized her counseling status in the church. In 1993, the Episcopal Conference of Malawi sponsored Felister to train in Italy, where she earned certification as a Trainer of Trainers in Natural Family Planning and Reproductive Health from the Catholic University in Rome. She has achieved other certification, including in HIV/AIDS avoidance, Reproductive Health and the MLI bead System of Natural Family Planning.
Felister and her husband had worked for the Episcopal Conference for several years before the natural family planning initiative was closed. She continued teaching natural family planning methods.
In 2002, Felister and her husband joined Father Clemence in a new non-governmental organization, Fertility Awareness for Selective Use Consultancy and Maternal Life International, FAMLI, specializing in natural family planning methods.
FAMLI started training families at a district level before advancing to regional and national levels. Her training role includes reaching remote villages in Malawi. There are various strategies in her work. Circles of Life trains women on homecare skills including nutrition.
Tikhale Moyo groups cater for the special needs of divorced, widowed and single mothers. These clubs have provided a platform for communities to address cultural practices that appropriate HIV and AIDS control. Communities identify and address their unique situations through the leadership of the local leaders. However, lack of incentives for the volunteers weakens the rollout of the program. Some of these volunteers walk long distances to train women and get no pay.”
The mother of six, two of them adopted orphans, has a very involving life. Felister is currently organizing an orphans’ care center at Chilinde in Lilongwe in collaboration with local chiefs and women. Sixty orphans have been registered at this orphanage. A group of volunteers recently stormed her office demanding allowances.
Despite all the challenges, she remains determined in her dream, spreading the family planning message countrywide and plans to extend this message to the neighboring countries of Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. “All I need are reliable partners to work with.”
If all families would understand the essence of family planning and live happily, Felister would happily retire. For now, she continues with fortitude couples to live in marital bliss. (1000PeaceWomen).
Felister and Prince Chinthunzi write on the IFFLP-FIDAF-website:
“This web site is the voice of the Link Committee. The Committee has the objective to maintain the links and to encourage communication between the associations that are interested in promoting the family life, natural family planning, (NFP) in a context of family life education (FLE) and in accordance with its BASIC PHILOSOPHY:
- - The present rate of world population growth underlines man’s responsibilities in the area of fertility control, though this is not the sole solution to the population problem. Social reforms, economic development and the raising of living standards also play important, if not primary roles.
- - We believe that man needs education in order to grow in freedom, self-knowldge and reponsibility, developing henceforth all the potentialities of the human person.
The following principles and attitudes further express this belief:
1. The family unit, which is vital for the development of society, has three essential elements: man as a person, husband, father; woman as a person, wife, mother; child present actually or potentially, to be respected as a person from conception.
2. Growth as a person is a gradual and continuing process. The surmounting of difficulties seems to be a necessary part of this process. This applies to all aspects of the person, including sexuality.
3. In this context, human sexuality is best expressed in loving interpersonal relationships.
4. For a couple, a loving, generous, faithful and stable relationship promotes their security, as well as their children’s. Knowldge of themselves and each other promotes this relationship. The responsibility of conception regulation is inherent in this relationship.
5. The process of education should be understood as a sharing of information in the framework of a dialogue which is simultaneously a listening of and acceptance of each other in an equal ases. Thus, the couple becomes responsible not only for the applicion of a method of conception regulation but for a way of life freely chosen.
6. In this context, natural family planning is defined as a dialoge leading to responsible parenthood based on an educated awareness and acceptance of the cyclic phases of fertility and infertility. Loving abstinence in married life becomes basic to this dialogue.
7. We respect and accept spiritual values, from whatever source, which may deepen the understanding and sustain the purpose of a person or a couple.
A 25 pages-pdf: AIDS Cultural Change Programme 2001-2006;
PROMOTING A & B OUTSIDE OUR FAITH BASED COMMUNITY.
Sorry, I can’t find more informations about Felister Chinthunzi Malawi in the Internet.