First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over groceries to a boy living with disability during her Covid-19 interactive awareness campaign in Mutare last year. — Picture: John Manzongo
2020 goes down in history as the year in which First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and her Angel of Hope Foundation went an extra mile to sow the seeds of love, unity and hope for the nation.
Widows, orphans, the elderly and people living with disabilities got something to cheer about, thanks to the mother of the nation’s benevolence and her all-encompassing programmes.
As both mother of the nation and the country’s health ambassador, the First Lady led from the front in tackling issues that affect people like childlessness, inheritance disputes, domestic violence and caring for the elderly and other vulnerable members in communities.
She also tackled the challenges of juvenile delinquency and counselled young people to remain respectful and shun drugs, alcohol and other social vices that affect their future.
Survivors of natural calamities, like the Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, were given a shoulder to cry on and she mobilised resources to alleviate their challenges.
Amai Mnangagwa began the year by visiting the elderly countrywide. During the visits, she encouraged communities to care for the elderly and performing acts of kindness as a way of training communities to live in harmony.
This is also contrary to views of misguided people who associated the elderly with witchcraft thereby neglecting them.
In most communities, it was noted during her visits that the elderly lived in abject poverty without decent meals and proper healthcare hence efforts by the First Lady to restore safety nets for them.
In January, the First Lady touched many hearts when she visited Umzingwane where people saw the importance of her efforts to restore safety nets for the elderly.
She met Gogo Violet Ncube (82) of Mawabeni Village who lived alone after her husband, her only child and grandchild died many years ago, leaving her to face life’s challenges alone.
When the First Lady visited Gogo Ncube, her homestead looked dilapidated and was crying out for attention, with the kitchen roof caved in.
Amai Mnangagwa’s visit rekindled Gogo Ncube’s hope for a better life, and she helped roof the house with her own hands before thoroughly cleaning the huts.
Appreciating the First Lady’s visit, Gogo Ncube said: “I live here alone and getting something to eat is a struggle. I can no longer farm because I no longer have the strength. The visit by our First Lady has given me hope. She has remembered me, a poor old widow.”
Amai Mnangagwa through her foundation went on to donate an assortment of foodstuffs and toiletries to Gogo Ncube and other elderly people in that community.
The visits were however, affected by the advent of coronavirus in March and this saw the First Lady embarking on nationwide tours to teach rural and urban communities on how to prevent the global pandemic.
Globally, the effects of the pandemic were serious. Thousands of people died across the globe and the world economy was left on its knees. Covid-19 is now in a second wave which is affecting most communities because of complacency. Most people were no longer strictly adhering to World Health Organisation (WHO)-prescribed prevention guidelines.
So passionate about saving the lives of Zimbabweans is Amai Mnangagwa that she has spent much of last year, even risking her own life teaching communities about Covid-19.
She stepped up efforts to prepare rural communities against coronavirus through enhanced awareness programmes that emphasised on hygiene and social distancing.
Amai Mnangagwa left no stone unturned in ensuring that people had access to vital information on how to protect themselves from the pandemic.
She distributed an assortment of foodstuffs, home-made face masks, sanitizers, blankets and detergents to the elderly and other vulnerable members across the country’s communities. She toured all the country’s provinces, including some areas deemed to have poor roads, to ensure everyone got information on the pandemic.
The First Lady’s interventions were timely because under the lockdown, the elderly and other vulnerable members of the community had run out of food.
She implored families to temporarily put aside traditional beliefs and customs which exposed them to coronavirus.
The mother of the nation has on various occasions reiterated that: “The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over. Let us continue practicing good hygiene and washing our hands.
“We should continue wearing our face masks because we are now in the second wave of the pandemic and we cannot continue losing people. We must promote good health by saying ‘you protect me as I also protect you — Ndidzivirire ini ndigokudzivirirawo’. This means we must use face masks religiously.”
Through her Angel of Hope Foundation, she has been mobilising Covid-19 resources for onward distribution to areas of need.
She also tackled social problems that erupted as a result of the introduction of a total lockdown like domestic violence, food challenges, child marriages and juvenile delinquency.
She roped in the services of chiefs and headmen’s spouses across the country to restore the “nhanga” and “dare” concepts where girls and boys respectively were imparted with knowledge on how to look after themselves, use their hands and live in harmony.
Amai Mnangagwa spoke out candidly against the loss of morals among youths when video clips and pictures of young boys and girls performing disturbing acts went viral.
She called for a return to the country’s traditional ways of life which had inbuilt mechanisms to arrest such ills.
Women across the country also benefited immensely from the First Lady’s self-help projects which saw them start nutritional gardens, goat-rearing projects, farming, detergent making projects, sewing and cooking clubs among other money making projects.
In her efforts to foster peace in the home, the First Lady started engaging men’s representative organisations to hear their issues and help overcome ills such as physical and verbal abuse, domestic violence, abuse of children, rape and forced marriages, among others, that have mostly affected women and children.
The First Lady also advocated cancer screening for women and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and AIDS, and took the same campaigns to educate men on prostate cancer, among other diseases.
This saw her visiting various communities under the Free to shine campaign, which is an initiative of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) which seeks to end HIV/Aids in Children by 2030.
Amai Mnangagwa is OAFLAD vice president.
The campaign follows reports that 1,4 million children are living with HIV in Africa, south of the Sahara and this is over 50 percent of all the children living with HIV globally.
Every year, 150 000 children are newly infected with HIV globally.
First Lady said: “This is social injustice against children as new HIV infections among children are entirely preventable through provision of antiretroviral treatment to HIV positive pregnant and lactating women, safe delivery and infant feeding practices.”
Carrying on with her motherly love, Commercial sex workers in some areas were plucked off the streets and introduced to self-help projects among other ventures to earn “clean money” and take care of their families in a dignified manner.
Her constant phrase “leaving no one behind” captures the hectic schedule she had and the cross section of communities that benefited from her philanthropic works.
The First Lady and Angel of Hope Foundation are seized with the transformation of Chambuta Refugee Camp in Chiredzi into a fully-fledged rehabilitation centre and skills training centre.
As someone who has a passion for children, the First Lady pledged to assist children working with the Department of Social Welfare.
Currently, some children who were living and working in the streets of major cities and towns were committed to Chambuta where they are attending school and various courses so that they become self-reliant. All this is through the First Lady who is spearheading developments at Chambuta and has roped in corporates, among other well-wishers, to achieve the dream.
Recently, a fundraising golf tournament was held by the country’s local authorities so that progress in the transformation of the centre may be achieved.
Gweru mayor, Councillor Josiah Makombe, who is the president of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ), said local authorities were geared to ensure the Chambuta project succeeded in support of the First Lady’s noble idea.
So passionate about the success of the project is the First Lady that she recently spent a week at Chambuta assessing the needs of the institution and see how best she can help.
As the country’s environment ambassador, she has been working with the Forestry Commission to plant trees and educate communities on the importance of doing so.
She recently spoke strongly against the cutting down of trees and said she was pained to see stakes of firewood on sale on roadsides of major highways and implored communities to stop the practice.
The mother of the nation further implored communities to embrace the Pfumvudza farming concept which guarantees food self- sufficiency and she has been giving out seed to make the programme a success.
The schools’ feeding programme that she introduced is being expanded to ensure children are well-nourished and free to pursue their education without challenges.
To sustain this initiative, wherever she does feeding programme visits, the First Lady provides maize seed for Pfumvudza, grain, rice, cooking oil and other essential commodities to schools.
To cap it all, Amai Mnangagwa spearheaded the search for the National Dress Fabric after embarking on comprehensive consultations with different stakeholders and ethnic groups from all the country’s 10 provinces.
Speaking after launching the National Dress Fabric last week, President Mnangagwa lauded the First Lady for leading the milestone achievement that is crucial to promoting and preserving national identity.
During the year under review, the First Lady through her philanthropic work, captured the attention of many.
This resulted in the corporate sector and individuals falling on each other to render assistance to the needy through Angel of Hope Foundation in support of Amai’s vision.
The sky is the limit for the First Lady as she continues to show eagerness to do more in the future.
SOURCE: The Herald