Women and youths plant a variety of crops such as maize, groundnuts, sorghum, cowpeas, roundnuts, millet and sweet potatoes among others at a farm sourced for them by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa in Seke yesterday

WIDOWS, single women, former ladies of the night and youths in Mashonaland East Province yesterday danced and shed tears of joy after First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa handed over to them a 5.8-hectare farm as she forges ahead with her empowerment initiatives to restore the dignity of women and reduce idleness which led youths into mischief.

This is the first programme of its kind countrywide and Amai Mnangagwa will take it to all the country’s provinces.

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development partnered the First Lady’s Angel of Hope Foundation after hearing the plight of the former ladies of the night and in support of the First Lady’s initiatives.

Agritex officers were on the ground yesterday working with the community on the farm and pledged to continue working with Angel of Hope Foundation.

The mother of the nation has a passion for the welfare of women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities, among many other vulnerable groups.

The farming project is expected to benefit such vulnerable groups and ensure people get food and surplus for sale to generate income to sustain their families.

Forty chiefs from Mashonaland East Province and nearby provinces and their spouses attended the event and joined the community in planting maize, groundnuts, sorghum, cowpeas, roundnuts, millet and sweet potatoes in support of the First Lady’s vision.

The spouses of chiefs were also given inputs to grow crops for the benefit of vulnerable members of their respective communities.

The First Lady met the women in Dema recently and had a heart-to-heart discussion where she asked them some of the projects they needed and they mentioned farming, among other projects.

The ministry then partnered the foundation and availed land to grow crops for the benefit of the women and youths. A borehole was drilled for use in the projects.

Some of the beneficiaries of a farming project plant a variety of crops on the farm sourced for them by Angel of Hope Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture in Seke yesterday
Some of the beneficiaries of a farming project plant a variety of crops on the farm sourced for them by Angel of Hope Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture in Seke yesterday. — Pictures: John Manzongo

So happy were the beneficiaries that they sang praises for Amai Mnangagwa while others openly wept.

One of the beneficiaries, a former lady of the night said, “I am thankful this day for what the First Lady has done for us. She has lessened the burden on people without anyone to look after them, especially single women who were roaming the streets resorting to prostitution.

“Amai taught us that prostitution is not a good way of life, but if you work using your hands all things fall into place. We promise to work hard so that no one can be seen at the bar or breaking other people’s marriages or even violence in the home will be reduced if women are also empowered,” she said with a broad smile.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Mrs Sosana Chinyama an elderly widow, who pledged to work hard and never look back, urging other women to unite for the success of the project.

“My husband died long back. I have grandchildren whom I look after and I was struggling to look after them. I am thankful to the First Lady for this field. She has remembered us as widows so that we can fend for our children. I thank her endlessly,” she said.

Another former lady of the night could not hide her joy and the prospects of leading a new life divorced from vice.

“I am a widow living in Dema and I was struggling to make ends meet. Before I resorted to selling my body. I am happy for being empowered by the First Lady. She did wonders for us because for a long time were doing despicable things,” she said.

“We discovered that such a way of life was bad because we could contract diseases unknowingly. Even our children had no one to take care of them since we were busy in the night clubs. Our mother of the nation gave us a fishing rod so that we can work for ourselves and not live on hand outs.

“We now know that to fish you need a worm and our children now know that if their mother comes with fish, she would have gone with a fishing rod. Today we have planted our crops and we will have food to feed our families and sell some of the produce so that we would be able to send our children to school.”

A hands-on person, Amai Mnangagwa has spared no effort in ensuring that she reaches every corner of the country to get firsthand information on issues affecting people mostly women and underprivileged groups and provide tangible solutions.

Another beneficiary said she was happy for the help they had been given.

“I am overjoyed with what the First Lady has done for us,” she said. “She heard our cries as single ladies that we had lost hope and nowhere to start from. She promised us that she would assist us. Today we are at the farm and we are using our own hands so that our children will live dignified lives.”

A member of the community, Mrs Spiwe Ndlovu said the mother of the nation had struck the right chord for women in the area as their children would leave shameful ways of life.

“I am happy because our children who would frequent bars doing shameful things now have a field courtesy of the First Lady. We are happy that our children are now sitting pretty as we also help them as a community here in Seke District. I am happy for what our mother has done and everyone must see this wonderful thing she has done for us,” said Mrs Ndlovu.

The happiness was not confined to women alone.

Mr Donald Mangisi, a youth, said he was elated by the First Lady’s assistance.

“I am happy for this programme that has been brought by the first lady encouraging good works in the communities,” he said. “Those who did not have something to do and were engaging in prostitution which is not good in the community and breaks the marriages of many people.

 “This helps improve the nation through good works like farming and detergent-making among many other projects she initiated in this area. This makes life bearable as we work with our hands than selling flesh and abusing drugs and alcohol which takes us nowhere.”

Traditional chiefs from Mashonaland East Province and their spouses help beneficiaries of a farming project initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Angel of Hope Foundation
Traditional chiefs from Mashonaland East Province and their spouses help beneficiaries of a farming project initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Angel of Hope Foundation to plant different crops such as maize, groundnuts, sorghum, cowpeas, roundnuts, millet and sweet potatoes among others in support of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s initiative in Seke yesterday

Mr Mangisi said he was happy because of the educative nature of the First Lady’s programmes.

“We are here planting crops,” he said. “We will also be learning this we did not know and could not do. This makes youths leave drugs like mutoriro and guka because they will be having projects to do.

“You will know that if you take a hoe you can dig holes and do pfumvudza routines that are beneficial.”

Mrs Naume Chimanikire, the wife to Chief Seke, described the First Lady’s initiative as a game changer and praised her for her endless efforts to ensure families were raised in a morally upright manner.

“These are young women, elderly women, youths who are coming here to be empowered,” she said. “There was a time when the First Lady gathered the elderly, young girls and ladies of the night. She discussed with them and urged them to leave bad ways.

“She advised them that prostitution would kill them after they contract diseases. Some said they had nothing to do hence their slide into prostitution. Our mother is a woman of action, she then helped the women to apply for this land. We shall ensure we support her as Chiefs wives as she takes the programme countrywide. We are grateful that the First Lady has given us inputs as Chiefs wives to plant with vulnerable groups in our areas of jurisdiction.”

Chairman of Mashonaland East Chiefs Council Chief Nechombo Mr Langton Chikukwa heaped praises on the First Lady for moulding the nation and ensure people raised their families in a dignified manner.

“This is what real mothers do,” he said. “Ever since independence in 1980 we had never seen this and our mother is showing us the way. This shows she has love for the nation and we pray that everyone listens to her wise counsel.

“Our mother is doing all in her might to improve our lives and we pray that we all incline an ear to her teachings. She means well for this nation and we should support her.”

In a speech read on her behalf by Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Applonia Munzverengwi, the First Lady said she felt gratified to have done something that would improve people’s way of life.

“We did many projects including soap-making, but today we have done something big through the provision of land,” she said. “It is one of the aims of Angel of Hope Foundation to uplift women and girls so that they succeed. This is why we have come to fulfil this aim here in Mashonaland East Province. We are taking this programme throughout all the country’s provinces.

“When we met in Dema you related fierce and pitiful stories explaining how you were living through prostitution. I was happy that you showed zeal and willingness to change your way of life and quit the world’s oldest profession. Women and girls, this job is suicidal. You will never be able to live your life well because of diseases caused by having multiple sexual partners.”

Amai Mnangagwa said the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development extended its hand and worked with Angel of Hope Foundation so that they join the Pfumvudza initiatives which allows for high yields on small plots.

“As women we raise families and villages for our communities to succeed,” she said. “We have now left prostitution and are focusing on what does not kill but sustains families. We applied to get this land so that we grow a variety of crops which earn us a lot of money.

“We then invited agricultural experts to come and work with us. This is the first programme of its kind countrywide and it has been started in Seke. This pilot project will show how we are working and how far we succeed.”

The First Lady thanked the leadership of Mashonaland East Province for assisting in the identification of the land.

“Today I have come to hand over this field so that you grow grows for sale to sustain your families,” she said. “The ministry of Agriculture will assist you with expertise on how to plant and manage the crops. We want to see what you will realise from this because I know a fighting woman strives for success.

“If we work hard as women we can help our nation develop and even the whole of Africa we can carry it on our backs. We have the power to work and build and we should do this in rightful ways.

“Our success is in the land as black people because whatever we produce will sustain us. Let us work together in this project. Unity is important and let us be driven by the spirit of working for our families. Do not gossip and scold each other or be segregate.”

SOURCE: The Herald

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