First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa leads in the clay pot race at Chambuta centre in Chiredzi on Thursday.

Chambuta Children’s Home, which is being transformed into a rehabilitation centre for children living and working on the streets of major towns and cities, is undergoing major infrastructural development with a ground-breaking ceremony on Thursday for a multi-recreational court and an arts and cultural gazebo.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, who is spearheading development at the institution and the community in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, local authorities and other organisations, presided over the ground-breaking ceremony.

After the ground-breaking ceremony, the First Lady had a walkathon with all the guests and children at the centre as they proceeded to the sports grounds for a day of sport and fun.

People were amazed to see the children perform aerobics, among many other games.

The First Lady, who arrived in Chambuta on Tuesday, has been living at the home with the children, thereby getting a personal experience of life at the centre.

Chief Chilonga praised the First Lady for her humility saying it was new to them seeing a First Lady among them and eating from the same pot.

So lively was the session that the First Lady and her team joined the children in performing the popular Jerusalema dance challenge, which has taken the world by storm.

She did all the paces with ease.

There were activities and competitions that were lined up, including claypot head balancing, egg-and-spoon race, hanging apple eating, dancing, modelling, soccer, netball, volleyball and athletics, among other activities.

To add colour to the event, Amai Mnangagwa took part in a claypot head balancing race with elderly women in the community and she came out first, much to the amusement of people who were cheering on the competitors.

She also entered the egg-and-spoon race where she battled it out with Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry and others.

Ministers of State and Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira (Masvingo) and Larry Mavima (Midlands) along with deputy ministers took part in a 100m dash where Youth Deputy Minister Tino Machakaire, was the “Usain Bolt” of the day.

Mayors, town clerks and other delegates also took part in sporting activities.

Children living at the centre were smartly dressed at the event where Zimdancehall star, Killer T, provided entertainment.

Minister Chadzamira could not hide his joy at the works being done by the First Lady.

“You are uplifting the livelihood of members of this community and children here at Chambuta.

“People here saw these children as lagging behind, but you have catapulted them to a higher level.

“We are truly thankful and we shall continue with your programme as we have seen your love. You are like the biblical Ruth because whether tough or easy-going, you do not rest and keep on uplifting the children of Zimbabwe,” he said to wild applause.

Children at the home recited poems in English.

“She opened doors for my success,” said one pupil in a poem which glorified the works being done by the First Lady and thanked her for committing time and resources to the development of vulnerable communities.

Through a poem titled “Tinokutendai Mhamha nerudo rwenyu”, another pupil highlighted the life-changing initiatives which the First Lady is undertaking across the length and breadth of the country.

Minister Coventry praised Amai Mnangagwa’s investment in the welfare of the underprivileged.

“You are changing the lives of these children. My Ministry appreciates your support. Children and young people are the future leaders and they deserve our support. My Ministry will not spare efforts to also assist these children in support of your initiative. It was your vision that saw us here today,” she said.

She handed over desktop computers, mechanics’ toolkits, agriculture kits, building toolkits and textbooks, mbira, hosho, ngoma, marimba, traditional dance attire, darts board and darts, soccer, volleyball and netball balls to the First Lady for onward transmission to Chambuta children’s home and local schools.

The netball kit is the replica of the one that was used by the national netball team, the Gems, in Liverpool during the last World Cup competitions.

Through her Angel of Hope Foundation, the First Lady donated stationery to Chambuta primary school.

In her speech, Amai Mnangagwa said she was overjoyed to be associated with the children’s home.

“To those who may not be conversant with the history of this home, I wish to repeat that last year we had a small party in Harare where children, most of whom are here today, gathered.

“On this day, after all the formalities the children expressed gratitude for what had been done for them and requested to be equipped with technical skills and education.

“This informed the decision to transform this home into a place where youths can be taught skills like motor mechanics, farming, carpentry and cookery. It was also realised that we had to promote sports, arts and culture.

“These three things are cardinal in promoting good health, temperance and working together in all they do,” she said.

The First Lady said it was her prayer each day that children at the centre work hard so they can have a brighter future and not return to their old ways.

“As a mother, my aim is to work hard to uplift this home so that it becomes ideal to keep these children with effective programmes.

“It is my wish that these children live in a clean safe environment where they get decent meals and skills to bring change in their lives.

“I was happy to see various sporting fields under construction. It gave me hope that teams be assembled to promote arts and culture including children here and those in the community. If properly done, combined teams will then compete with others in Chiredzi District right up to the whole province of Masvingo,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa said it was her wish to see Chambuta breed stars who follow the footsteps of the Minister of Sport, prominent singers, sculptors and many others.

Deputy Minister Machakaire said his ministry was striving to empower youths through programmes like the National Youth and Paralympic Games, and the Junior Parliament Leadership Development Programmes.

“Youth interact centres, vocational training and skills centres like the one to be established here, empowerment programmes like the Youth Fund are in place where youths can access loans to establish their business.

“National Youth Service Programme is also being run for national orientation of our youths. Amai with your support the ministry will continue to create the necessary impact particularly where it concerns mobilising children, adolescents and young children so they play a meaningful role in the affairs of the nation with Vision 2030 in mind.”

Deputy Minister Machakaire said youth interact centres will be equipped with the necessary equipment to enhance youth, sport, arts and cultural activities.

He further praised the First Lady for her love and kindness towards vulnerable groups.

Empowerment programmes for the children at Chambuta Children’s Home are being implemented through training programmes in agriculture, building and motor mechanics supported by Mushagashe Vocational Training Centre.

After a month, they will be provided certificates of competency before they are further placed on attachment in their chosen fields, thanks to the First Lady.

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