INERELA+ Zambia: Elita Aka Ambuya Diva – Sex Worker Turned To Champion, Counsellor And Care Giver

Ellita Musanzika and Trained Religious Leader Lubasi Kachele at Mtulikwa Church on the 19th of September 2023

One of the success stories in Zambia is that of Elita known as Ambuya Diva among other sex workers. Elita started sex work at the age of 15 after experiencing difficulties at home, a drop out from school, a lack of food, and extreme poverty in the family.  

She tried marriage during that same period of difficulties, but the relationship broke down after the husband became abusive. She engaged full-time into sex work to sustain her (2 biological and 2 grandchildren) and also provide for her parents who at first were in denial of Elita’s indulgences in sex work. She fought through abuse by men who sometimes refused to pay for her services, stigma, and discrimination in the community, hospitals, and the police to become a Champion and Counsellor under INERELA+ Zambia. She is currently the leader of the Banana sex worker support group. Through the leadership of INERELA+ Zambia who consistently encouraged her, Elita realised that to efficiently lead the group she needed to be empowered and informed on ways to deal with the challenges that her colleagues were facing in the sex work industry. Elita attended and acquired skills in counselling and is providing counselling services to support group members and all other sex workers who need the services. Part of the services besides counselling Elita refers other sex workers to Hands off trained Clinicians to receive HIV tests, ART, and PREP services. In addition to her efforts in standing for the rights of Sex workers, Elita is also a full-time Caregiver and Counsellor at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia where she provides similar services like the ones in the sex worker support group. She is earning a salary and at the same time sustaining the income she gets from sex work.  Ellita managed to bridge the gap between two professions which demand different approaches but still speak to the need to uphold human rights and restore dignity to humankind.

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