Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has called on Zimbabweans to demystify the idea of adoption and foster care to ensure that orphaned children can grow up in traditional family set-ups that groom them for the future.
She was speaking at a belated Christmas party for orphaned children held at Fairfield Children’s Home at the United Methodist-run Old Mutare Mission yesterday.
The First Lady toured the home’s facilities after which she donated groceries to 14 children’s homes operating in Manicaland. Pregnant women also received gifts as she said they should be celebrated because they were the ones who bring life into this world.
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“The problem of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children, women, and girls is close to my heart. It is a problem that is not unique to Zimbabwe, but goes beyond our borders, regionally and internationally. However, the fact that it is a common problem is not a justification for us to let the situation worsen,” she said.
“As Zimbabweans, closely knitted family structures are a vital part of our culture. Surely, we are all relatives of these children. Most of us have the capacity to accommodate them. We can take them in within our homes. Adoption is also an option that we have and we should demystify and embrace it. There is no need to fear and remain in ignorance. We should educate each other and remove the myths and unfounded social cultural beliefs that hinder us from talking care of our own.”
The First Lady said children’s homes came about as a result of instances where parents did not have the capacity to take care of their children and opted for better care in the homes.
She said the growing number of children’s homes in the country was a cause for concern, which needed a collective solution.
“What is saddening is that some of these children are mentally challenged or disabled, requiring special care. These homes are regarded as a last resort, hence their increasing numbers is now a major concern. We should collectively interrogate the push factors and explore preventive mechanisms. The mere existence of the 14 children’s homes here in Manicaland to me is the initial indication of a desire to provide for children’s needs although it is in an alternate setting from the traditional family set-up,” she said.
She commended the efforts of the children’s homes in the province and encouraged them to continue raising independent, disciplined, respectable ambitious and capable individuals.
The First Lady’s visit is part of nationwide visits she has been conducting to acquaint herself with issues pertaining to the social sector.
“This is driven not only by my portfolio as the First Lady, but my passion for socio-transformation and improvement of livelihoods as a mother. I believe that going personally to meet the people and seeing first hand their predicament is the effective mechanism that will make one understand the people’s needs and the existing gaps that require intervention,” she said.
She called on those who run orphanages to ensure that the children they raise experience the same childhood as those in traditional family set-ups.
Speaking at the same occasion, Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, said: “The visit to this place shows that you (First Lady Mnangagwa) value these children.
“If they are valued, they will also have a sense of self-worth, which is important for them to grow up into confident adults.”
Sen Mutsvangwa said Manicaland should utilise the abundant vast natural resources available in the province to take care of the orphaned children.
“If we do this, we can take care of our children and there will be no children who do not go to school. For us to succeed, we should use what we have and be able to take care of these children and change their lives for better,” she said.