Linton’s Story – Kicking gender equality to the fore

Zambian karate-master, Linton, has always been passionate about helping young people. So, he jumped at the chance to train vulnerable young people in karate as part of Y Care International and YWCA Zambia’s Safe Spaces project in Lusaka, which has been funded by Comic Relief.

He says the project – now 9 months in – has yielded incredible transformations in the participants. ‘I can see that some kids break out: they were very shy and hidden. Karate really helps them build self-confidence. It helps them break out of that prison’; a journey of change that ‘[he] could relate to.’

The sensei sees gradual changes in addressing temper that some children are dealing with, ‘they learn a lot about how they relate to each other and me.’ Such transformations echo Linton’s own journey with karate. He reflects, ‘I have changed through karate. I used to have a nasty temper but now I have been able to develop patience, respect, self-discipline, focus, application of self.’

But the young people learning life-skills are not the only people benefiting from the project. Through his own participation, Linton has gained greater understanding of the threats faced by women and girls. He says, ‘I used to hear about Gender Based Violence but now I realise that I am working with people who have experienced GBV,’ and has become aware that just ‘an hour of my time with them could make a difference in their life’.

The karate-master laments ‘I had my own challenges in the past; and through teaching the children, I get reminded of those challenges and sometimes that is tough.’ But he adds that, ‘it feels good to be an “elder brother”’ which motivates him to set a good example.

Although he is an experienced coach, teaching a class full of beginners is new. He reflects that, ‘it reminds me of the principles of karate. For example, some kids learn slowly and it’s easy to get tempted into getting frustrated. However, it reminds me that I need to be patient.’ He understands, ‘that’s me many years ago’.

He implores his pupils to respect that ‘karate is a form of self-defence … only called for when the situation is serious,’ and understand that joining the classes ‘is an invite to benefit from karate’; it is a privilege that they have the chance to join.

For Linton, karate coach, the experience is really ‘lifechanging.’

Donate to the Zambia Safe Spaces project here.

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