Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S previously marginalised communities have this year been given a lot to cheer about, thanks to empowerment programmes by Angel of Hope Foundation and its partners.
True to the name of her organisation, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has been an angel of hope who is devoting time and resources to ensure those in marginalised communities are not forgotten.
She has barely had time to rest, travelling the length and breadth of the country and beyond obeying her motherly call to assist those in need.
The Doma people in Kanyemba, the Mola people north of Zimbabwe and the San in Plumtree have all benefited from her benevolence.
Nutritional gardens, goat-rearing, castor bean production, dishwasher and candle-making, among other income-generating projects, have been established in various areas countrywide.
A project to sew reusable sanitary pads has also been rolled out by Angel of Hope Foundation in all the provinces, bringing relief to thousands of women in rural communities.
Clinics and health posts have been established in previously marginalised communities.
All these projects would not have seen the light of day were it not for the First Lady who has a passion for the economic empowerment of women and children to ensure they self-sustain and are able to contribute meaningfully to the country’s economic development.
In this vein, Amai Mnangagwa, last Friday hosted an appreciation dinner to thank various organisations and individuals who have partnered her to uplift and empower vulnerable groups.
President Mnangagwa attended the function.
In her speech, the First Lady said: “There are a number of individuals and organisations who have stood with me and my Angel of Hope Foundation, ensuring that all my planned activities and interventions have been funded and supported. All what I have been doing through the foundation would not have happened or been achieved without the support from Angel of Hope partners.
“From the bottom of my heart, I really thank you for such acts of benevolence which I appreciate and encourage.”
The First Lady chronicled how she started the foundation and her journey.
“On becoming First Lady in late 2017, a lot of things engulfed my mind. I looked at my background, looked around and saw vulnerable people and I felt they were calling me to assist. I felt in me the urge and willpower to do something to help, but I had no idea of what to do,” she said.
“That is when the idea of an organisation to help me fulfil my dreams was mooted and I founded Angel of Hope Foundation early last year.”
She said the foundation helped her to focus on what activities she could do, the targeted groups and the services needed.
The First Lady said it became easier for partners and other well-wishers to work with her since it was now clear that she was entirely serving the needy.
Through the foundation, Amai Mnangagwa said she managed to streamline her interventions into key strategic areas targeting vulnerable groups.
She narrated how she assisted in the health sector, paying attention to non-communicable diseases, including cancer.
“The reality that I came across when I visited hospitals in 2017 alerted me to the many challenges faced by patients in hospitals.
“This prompted me to introduce a mobile clinic through the foundation which focuses on cancer screening and testing, working together with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders.”
On the economic empowerment of women and youths, the First Lady said she initiated various projects countrywide in partnership with relevant ministries and other stakeholders.
“I deliberately empowered the chiefs’ spouses to be the agents of change and economic empowerment in their communities,” the First Lady said.
She also spoke about how she brought a new lease of life to the once marginalised communities.
“I reached out to the marginalised borderline communities empowering them socially to co-exist with the rest and accept transformation and integration into the modern society,” she said.
“To date, the Doma and San communities are slowly adapting to modern village lifestyles through building permanent houses leaving their hunter-gatherer nomadic lifestyle.
“I am proud to say access to health services by these communities has improved as clinics and health posts have been established through Angel of Hope Foundation.”
The First Lady said after visiting institutions for the elderly and children, she witnessed the challenges of food and other essentials before giving a helping hand.
In the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, which left thousands of households devastated, the First Lady, through her foundation, came up with an idea that helped women who were left in need.
She embarked on a “Poto neNdiro” campaign in partnership with churches.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. The continent has been duly noting her strides.
In July 2019, she was voted vice president of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD).
During the dinner, speaker-after-speaker commended the First Lady for her no-partisan approach saying she had every citizen at heart.
Some of the beneficiaries of her projects attended the function and showcased their products.
Several organisations and individuals expressed interest in partnering Angel of Hope with some pledging financial help.
The First Lady mixed and mingled with her guests as they sipped maheu which she personally prepared.