Tendai Rupapa in KANYEMBA
FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, through her Angel of Hope Foundation, has started distributing small grains to the Doma community here to boost food self-sufficiency and nutrition ahead of the onset of rains.
Kanyemba is characterised by low rainfall, hence the decision to promote the planting of drought-tolerant crops.
The introduction of small grains suits well with the community, which prior to working with the First Lady, relied on hunting and gathering.
Amai Mnangagwa first introduced nutrition gardens in the area and is now slowly drifting towards cash crops.
She has started with castor beans for income generation to benefit the community.
All this comes as the seven-member team of United States and Canadian investors yesterday spent a second day assessing the needs of the Kanyemba community and how best they could assist to uplift the standards of living of people here.
The team came to Zimbabwe at the invitation of the First Lady through her foundation.
They toured various projects initiated by Amai Mnangagwa and promised to do all their might to assist, in partnership with Angel of Hope Foundation.
On Wednesday, the team led by the First Lady, were in Mariga Village where they toured Mariga health post and projects being done by the women.
Yesterday, they were in Chapoto Village.
In a speech read on her behalf yesterday by the Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Minister Monica Mavhunga (pictured) after the tour of various projects in Chapoto spearheaded by her Angel of Hope Foundation, the First Lady chronicled how her journey in working with the previously marginalised community started up to now.
“The journey was not easy as you may think,” she said. “When I first visited this place, I found these people malnourished and suffering from various diseases like malaria and kwashiorkor.
“They were also stark naked, shy and not interested in associating with other people visiting them. I then arranged for their medical check-ups and I brought a group of general practitioners and specialist doctors. At the same time, I gave them a chance to survive like any other human being.”
The First Lady said she gradually started introducing agricultural activities focusing on nutrition gardens, small grain planting, maize and later on built health facilities like Mariga Satellite Clinic, among others.
“I then encouraged them to send their children to school starting from Early Childhood Development (ECD) to secondary level,” she said. “This contributed immensely to the reduction of underage marriages and early teenage pregnancies.
“I then decided to lead by example through the payment of school fees for some of the children at Chapoto Secondary.”
The First Lady said she encouraged the community to build permanent structures and today they are living in far much better conditions than before.
“Seeing the plight of women who were walking long distances to reach to the clinic for delivery assistance, I then decided to build a waiting mothers’ shelter here at Chapoto Clinic,” she said.
“’I have now decided it is high time for them to start a cash crop project, hence I introduced them to castor beans.”
After touring Chapoto Clinic and a waiting mothers’ shelter built by the First Lady through her foundation, one of the investors, Mrs Jeannie Burns Buckner, was full of praises for Amai Mnangagwa.
“What the First Lady did is commendable,” she said. “From the stories we heard and what we saw here, the waiting mothers’ shelter is really helping this community, especially expecting mothers.
“The women told us of how they used to walk long distances to the clinic while in labour and some ended up giving birth in the bushes after they failed to reach the clinic on time.
“However, with this mothers’ shelter they can come over and wait for their time under the watch of experts.”
Mrs Prisca Timothy (29), who came to the mothers’ shelter two days ago and is due anytime, said before the shelter was built, they used to do home deliveries as she dreaded walking long distances to the clinic while in labour.
“We are grateful to the First Lady for her continued support,” she said. “She has the people of Kanyemba at heart.”
Mrs Muchaneta Dick (21) echoed similar sentiments and paid tribute to the First Lady’s love and support.
She gave birth to her second baby on Wednesday after she was admitted at the shelter for a week. She delivered her first born child at home four years ago as she failed to walk to the clinic when she went into labour.
Women from Chapoto Village exhibited the clothes they knit and sew following the knitting and sewing projects that were introduced by the First Lady throughout the villages in Kanyemba.
The villagers were also given an assortment of foodstuffs by Angel of Hope, while expecting mothers were given new-born baby kits.
After receiving the small grain seed, Mr Cameon Kiambo said: “We were poor such that we survived on working for other people from the surrounding areas.
“We never used to farm because we did not have inputs. Amai has given us small grain seeds, now we are farming on time and able to feed our families.”
Mrs Tsitsi Chiambo said they used to get few seeds to plant after working in other people’s fields, long after the planting season.
She was full of praises for the First Lady who introduced them to nutritional gardens, among other projects.
The small grain seed distribution continues today in Masoka and Angwa villages.