Curtain comes down on First Lady’s inspiring girls camp First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa comforts a girl during an emotional farewell at the closing ceremony of the weeklong boot camp she organised for girls from all the country’s 10 provinces. - Pictures: John Manzongo.

Tendai Rupapa-Senior Reporter

THE curtain came down yesterday on the weeklong girl’s camp organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for learners drawn from all the country’s 10 provinces.

The participants, including their teachers, pointed at time well-spent in moulding a model girl for Zimbabwe who focuses on education and stays away from drugs and men before the time is ripe.

Yesterday, both the learners and their teachers punched the air with excitement as they praised the mother of the nation for her well-thought-out programmes.

Speaking province by province, the children expressed joy and shared the stories they would tell back home.

They also had hotel and catering practical lessons from the First Lady and other experts from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).

They also touched on tourism and the First Lady underscored the importance of promoting domestic tourism #ZimBho.

Amai Mnangagwa, who is the country’s patron for Tourism and Hospitality, has a deep appreciation of the tourism and hospitality sector in which she holds a university degree from Switzerland and a Master’s degree from the Midlands State University.

She is a PhD student with Midlands State University, focusing on tourism and hospitality.

To spice up activities, there were modelling and dancing competitions after which the children were treated to a mouth-watering traditional meal lunch by the First Lady.

Teachers took part in a dancing competition as well.

Iyasa performed plays on the effects of drug abuse, gender based violence, child marriages and the importance of education.

Iyasa drama and dance group performs a drama about the importance of preserving Zimbabwean culture and values so as to maintain national dignity during the closing ceremony of a weeklong girls boot camp organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa.

The modelling competition sought to crown Miss Girl’s Camp, a title that was grabbed by Tanya Moyo.

Miss Confidence was Tinevimbo Maponga, while Miss Personality was given to Keisha Ndlovu.

The mother of the nation sat back as the children and their teachers recounted what they had learnt throughout their stay and the beautiful stories they would tell to the world and their peers.

Schools Inspector for Guidance and Counselling in Matabeleland South Province Mrs Sakhile Siziba paid glowing tribute to Dr Mnangagwa for organising lively training sessions for the girls including a career guidance workshop which she intends to carry forward in her province.

“Some of our teachers are young and they are not capacitated to deliver such lessons to the girls like you did here Amai. They are not confident. Even if they know, some might be shy to tell the girls as it is, but here we are today and equipped. It means from here in order to capacitate all teachers to be able to teach the children we need to organise workshops from provincial level to touch every teacher so that when they go back to their schools, they deliver. Yes of course we have been relying on resource persons, but this is a great move because we are capacitating our very own teachers who teach these children and take care of them.” 

“Of course, the syllabus deals with career guidance but most of the information that we gained here is outside the syllabus. It is in the syllabus of life. Yes, they need to survive and all the skills that we taught them here are skills for life. We will continue strengthening career guidance because of the perspective we gained at this camp because it enlightened the kids as they were relating what they remember from the teachings yesterday, they have been inspired so we need as schools to organise more career guidance sessions. 

“We have been crying to them to say it must start from primary school level cascading to the cluster level, district level, provincial, up to national level,” she said.

Iyasa drama and dance group performs a drama where uncultured and ill mannered school girls laugh at a man who is visually-impaired instead of assisting him during the closing ceremony of a weeklong girls boot camp organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa.


Mrs Siziba promised to carry forward what she had learnt.

“When I get back to my province I will lobby with the provincial education director to ensure that all schools organise career guidance workshops for our learners because all this information is critical. In the provincial meetings that I am thinking of I will lobby again that the 10 girls that I came with are there and they pronounce it to the provincial education director and teachers present and in that way it will have a lot of impact. Thank you very much Amai,” she said.

Teachers too were left spellbound by the First Lady’s teachings and hands-on approach.

Mrs Abigail Mugwagwa, a teacher from Manicaland Province said she was empowered by what she learnt from the First Lady at the boot camp.

“Amai you empowered me as a teacher, mother and as a woman. I will use what I learnt here. As teachers we learnt a lot since we were also in class. When I go back I want to teach learners to bake bread just like you taught us. You are not selective and embrace everyone despite their place of origin. As we are here all provinces are represented showing how you embrace everyone,” she said.

Forget Shezhu, a Sister Mary from the Roman Catholic Church, who is also a teacher in Masvingo, said she had benefited a lot from the programme and humbly asked the First Lady to tailor-make something for nuns.

“Amai as sisters we ask you to come and sit down with us teaching us because I learnt a lot that I did not know and my fellow Roman Catholic sisters do not know most of the things you were teaching here. Going back to the schools where we teach, children are not dressing properly and if we try to counsel them we are told that they are not committed to celibacy like us. 

“Girls nowadays have the mistaken belief that wearing miniskirts makes them loved by men, yet even when we are clad in doeks and long dresses, men still pester us. Thank you Amai for your teachings and I shall go and train others,” she said.

Talking to the learners, the First Lady said; “We want you to say whatever you grasped and what you will share when you go back. How long is your break time? 

“Are you going to use your break time teaching other girls. Some of the issues we discussed are for girls only and to not share them with boys. Tell me what you will tell others province by province and will you be able to answer them.”

Learners gave detailed reports back on what they had learnt.

Tanya Moyo show her peers how to use a fork and knife during grooming and etiquette lessons organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa during the closing ceremony of the girls boot camp.

Nyasha Kambarami said she learnt something tangible from the boot camp.

“I learnt how to slaughter and dress a chicken which is something that I had never done before. I also had no idea how bread is baked. We thank you Amai for the practical lessons,” she said.

Mada quipped: “I learnt that Education is your first husband who will never leave or abuse you. I also learnt that marriage is not an achievement but a rite of passage which should come at the appropriate time.”

Another learner thanked the First Lady for the exposure.

“We want to thank you Amai, you are different from other First Ladies all over the world. You have love and passion for the children, especially the girl child. You humble yourself despite your lofty office as First Lady and insist that you are a grandmother and aunt who imparts wisdom,” she said.

Keisha Ndlovu from Matabeleland North sang praises for the mother of the nation.

“From the very first day we started, we learnt a lot Mhamha and we are proud. When I go back to school, I will teach others all the good things we have learnt including focusing on our school work, respecting elders and doing away with drugs and boyfriends,” she said.

From Matabeleland North Province, Tanaka Tanga thanked the First Lady for the programme.

“We would like to thank you Amai for taking us through this programme. I’m going to educate my peers on the importance of focusing on our studies. I will tell my peers to work towards having titles like doctor, professor,” she said.

This dovetailed with the views shared by Naledi Ndlovu.

Minister of State and Devolution for Mashonaland East Aplonia Munzverengwi crowns Tanya Moyo who emerged Miss Girls camp champion during a modelling competition at the closing ceremony of the girls boot camp organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa.

“I will empower my peers with knowledge that I have acquired here. I will tell them not to give up but to be determined towards achieving their goals. I will teach my peers the importance of menstrual and personal hygiene. I will teach girls to have self-confidence and self-control,” she said.

From Masvingo Michelle Muchechesi said she had learnt a valuable lesson on dressing.

“I learnt that we should dress up well and always stay connected with God. I learnt that as a girl I have rights which should not be abused. I also learnt that I should focus on my studies and I should live a dignified life,” she said.

Similar words were corroborated by Takudzwa Shamira.

“I learnt that I should have self-confidence, I should work hard and be in that male dominated field. I learnt that I should have a strong connection with God.”

Lisa Ganyani shared her views.

“My mother bakes but she has never taught me how it is done, but you did Amai. I would like to thank you for that. I learnt that I should not look down upon myself as a girl since I can fare better than boys.”

Naledi Sibanda said she will tell her peers about the importance of protecting and preserving one’s virginity.

“I will teach my peers to keep the letter B in their hearts. Books before boys because boys bring unwanted babies. I also learnt how to light fire and bake. I learnt the importance of kukoshesa my virginity,” she said.

One of the kids jumped with excitement saying: “I want to thank you Amai. This is a great opportunity for us and I will go and tell my peers what we have learnt. I learnt about personal and menstrual hygiene. Amai you taught us decency and how to dress. We also thank you for the Career guidance workshop.”

Makanaka Chiripanyanga said she also learnt to preserve her virginity.

Girls modelling during the closing ceremony of a weeklong girls boot camp that was organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa.

“I learnt to keep my ‘wallet’ safe because it is valuable. I will also teach my peers the song I learnt here called ‘humhandara hwedu Jehova, baba tichengete’. We all should know that humhandara idamba kamwe.”

Nokutenda Takaza from Harare Province said the camp boosted her pride.

“Amai, I am now proud of myself and proud of wearing decent clothes. I used to dress like a boy but from your teachings, I will wear girls’ clothes. Amai you are an empowerment champion.” 

Similar words were echoed by Vanessa Tafa.

“I refuse to be devalued by men. Amai you empowered us. You taught us that there is no work for men or women and the ground is level and even for us all. I actually yearn to be a soldier,” she said.

Participants at the camp had a discussion with Mr Nehemiah Chikudza from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) who taught them the basics of food preparation and etiquette to be followed when serving food.

“For one to set a table, food would have had to be prepared. We focus on smoothening the cooking right up to the eating. When eating, there is an etiquette that has to be followed, first of all before serving food you should have a good personal presentation. Are you smart? Food is tasty if you are smart. If food is prepared by a dirty person you sometimes fail to eat. Your cooking and eating spaces must be smart. When serving your parents food, you must have confidence to tell them that today we have prepared dried vegetables and sorghum sadza, while explaining how you prepared the dish.” 

The First Lady interjected and asked: “Are you saying after cooking I must know what I have prepared and whether or not I used butter or cooking oil? Some clients will ask to say ‘what did you use because I do not eat butter’”. 

In response, Mr Chikudza said: “Thank you Amai. What you asked me is the real truth. When talking about tourism we must appreciate that we have different people with different manners and different preferences. 

“Some attend churches that do not eat pork so you must know how your food has been prepared so that when you get to the table you can explain how the food has been prepared and how the food was prepared. Some people want to know the pot used and you should explain whether you used tomatoes, onion and butter because some people do not like the ingredients you may have used.”

Dr Mnangagwa gave the girls some take home goodies and reusable pads.

She also educated them on the need to report cases of abuse and to make use of her National Gender-Based Violence Call Centre number 575.

Amai Mnangagwa highlighted that she wanted each girl to go back home a wholesome person and indeed it was a memorable boot camp which will forever linger in the girls’ minds.

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