First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa talks to girls trained by Angel of Hope Foundation on sewing reusable sanitary wear during the launch of the programme in Chitungwiza yesterday. — Pictures: John Manzongo

DISADVANTAGED girls from Chitungwiza can now beat steep increases in the cost of sanitary wear courtesy of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa whose Angel of Hope Foundation has unveiled a reusable sanitary pads sewing project for their benefit.

Apart from fostering skills transfer, the project has also largely helped curb cases of juvenile delinquency as children are now gainfully engaged with little idle time.

It will also help improve menstrual hygiene, helping some girls who had resorted to managing menstrual flow with unhygienic methods.

There were disturbing reports that girls from deprived communities who did not afford disposable sanitary pads had to make do with cow dung, old rags or leaves which exposed them to diseases like cervical cancer. 

Others also missed school during their menstrual cycles owing to lack of pads.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa looks at the reusable sanitary wear sewn by girls trained by Angel of Hope Foundation during the launch of the programme in Chitungwiza yesterday.

During her countrywide Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme in Chitungwiza, the First Lady saw it fit to provide the community with sewing machines, material, all accessories and knowledge to sew pads after hearing that most girls were finding disposable pads beyond their reach.

And it did not take long before she took action with her team from Angel of Hope Foundation, taking the children through the process of reusable sanitary pad making.

Even without sewing machines, the girls can now hand-sew the reusable pads. They have so far made hundreds of pads which are going to benefit many girls around Chitungwiza.

Yesterday, the girls invited the First Lady to Chitungwiza to view their hard work where she then officially launched the project. 

The children said they were overjoyed because of the First Lady’s initiative which helped keep them away from mischief.

Seventeen-year-old Amanda Stephenson said: “I am truly thankful to Amai Mnangagwa, who is our mother, for bringing us this programme of sewing reusable pads. We were taught by teams from her Angel of Hope Foundation and we now have something to do and we spend three hours daily sewing the pads before returning home to concentrate on our school work. 

Gogo Margret Diza (right) thanks First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa (left) for initiating the sanitary wear sewing programme for girls for it is moulding girls into responsible children during the launch of the programme in Chitungwiza yesterday.

“We really want to appreciate because now we are occupied unlike what we used to do in the past of spending time in the streets, loitering. Some girls of my age eloped after falling pregnant during lockdown because they spent so much time loitering with boys in the streets. This project will keep us busy and stay focused. It is helpful because we can no longer spend time idly.”

Nokutenda Fero (12) weighed in saying: “I want to thank Amai for the project she rolled out for us. We can now sew reusable pads and can now use sewing machines, something that we were not used to. We have also acquired the skills which we promise to impart to our peers in our community. Even without machines, we were taught how to hand-sew the pads.”

Youthful Princess Nechibvute expressed delight for the sewing project and described the First Lady as God-sent.

She said the reusable sanitary pads initiative restores their dignity and promotes good menstrual health management.

“This project is for a good cause and we want to thank the First Lady for the programme she started for our community,” she said. “We promise to teach other children so that we make as many pads for the benefit of our less privileged sisters and those who are disabled. 

“I want to thank you for your kindness and love Amai. May you continue to touch lives, you are indeed a blessing to the whole nation.” 

Amai Mnangagwa praised the girls for their hard work and urged them to share information on what they had learnt with their peers.

“I want to thank you girls for the work you did,” she said. “You did the work collectively and the machines which I gave you is to show you how a machine works. At times when we have no machines in the homes the important aspect is to cut the shape using a scissors and you use a needle. 

Girls sewing reusable sanitary wear after they were trained by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa through Angel of Hope Foundation during the launch of the programme in Chitungwiza yesterday.

“It does not mean that without a machine you cannot sew with a needle. I thank you for being attentive. You are the same people I did the Nhanga with and if you combine the Nhanga concept and these teachings you will be poised for success.” 

Mrs Asimuta Muzavazi, a resident of Zengeza 2, Chitungwiza, said recently after seeing the way children were living and behaving on the streets they invited the First Lady to bring her Gota/Nhanga/Ixiba programme to the town for their benefit.

“The First Lady promised she would bring sewing machines and materials,” she said. “In no time Angel of Hope Foundation brought material and taught us how to sew reusable pads and our children are now capable of sewing the reusable pads through what Amai did for us.

“This has helped a lot because these children were spending much time loitering in the roads aimlessly. During this period of lockdown, the children had become naughty. These girls who are coming for sewing sessions are spending close to three hours here and when they get back home they would have less time for mischief.” 

Less privileged children who cannot afford sanitary wear, Mrs Muzavazi said, were now going to benefit a lot because the reusable pads last for a long time provided they are handled with proper care. 

“I am truly thankful on the reusable pads project. This will benefit many children in our community as we expect the whole Chitungwiza to be covered. I am truly thankful for your good heart Amai and that you are not selective,” said Mrs Muzavazi in praise of the First Lady.

Gogo Margaret Diza (79) from Unit A was at a loss for words when she thanked the First Lady for her benevolence which she said had set young girls on the straight path.

“Amai vedu, Amai Mnangagwa gave us sewing machines and the material, our children are now able to sew even without using machines. This was made possible by the Angel of Hope Foundation team who trained them. Amai, these children’s parents are coming to testify that their children have changed and are no longer behaving as they did long back,” she said.

Gogo Diza said good manners start in the home, saying that was what the First Lady was teaching the children. 

She thanked the First Lady for her good heart saying; “Amai moyo wenyu uzere nerudo uye uri muvanhu, you are always thinking about all your children in the country. Thank you for empowering our girls in Chitungwiza.” 

Chitungwiza acting town clerk Mrs Evangelista Machona was equally happy and described the visit to Chitungwiza by the First Lady as a blessing.

She thanked her for the project, adding that she would advocate for the programme to be introduced in schools for the benefit of the young girls.

This is not the first time the mother of the nation has come to the rescue of women and young girls with sanitary wear. 

She has previously engaged many women’s groups in projects to sew reusable sanitary pads for onward distribution to the poor in all the country’s provinces.

Health experts say challenges with accessing proper menstrual hygiene diminishes the social status of women and girls, restricts mobility and affects their ability to participate in everyday activities.

Given the multiple challenges these women and adolescent girls face, it is evident that promoting menstrual hygiene management is not only a sanitation matter, but an important step towards safeguarding the dignity of women and girls.

SOURCE: The Herald

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