First Lady interfaces with diplomats
Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
Ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe and heads of international organisations were on Wednesday invited to State House by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa for a get together dinner.
The First Lady officially introduced herself to the diplomats who were eager to know more about the First Lady’s Office, its functions and her philanthropic arm, Angel of Hope Foundation.
She chronicled her philanthropic work and laid out her vision.
Zimbabwe’s traditional dishes were served at the African-themed dinner where innovative dishes like cake made from sorghum, rice in peanut butter and nhopi featured on the menu.
Guests also enjoyed freshly squeezed juices from indigenous fruits.
In her remarks, Amai Mnangagwa said: “Whereas Covid-19 has been the greatest hindrance to gatherings of this nature, I have to admit that for some time I could not meet with you as I was deeply engaged trying to uplift the standards of living of as many as we could among the vulnerable groups of our people.
“As the Office of the First Lady, we traverse the length and breadth of Zimbabwe with a view to get first-hand appreciation of the situation on the ground and to directly extend a hand wherever we could.
“It was during some of these visits that we learnt of some excellent work towards the development of some communities that were being done by some partners from your midst.
“I really want to take this opportunity to deeply thank you and to encourage you to continue with such humanitarian works that will help ensure that all our people enjoy the basic fundamental rights.”
The mother of the nation said she had been eager to meet heads of diplomatic missions in Zimbabwe, taking cognisance of the important role they play in the coordination of bilateral and multilateral development efforts of their countries.
“The function you serve of providing platforms to get in contact with other local and international support organisations working in the same field as ours cannot be understated,” she said.
“Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I have dedicated my time and office to support the most vulnerable in society through providing access to healthcare, social services, education and economic empowerment initiatives with particular emphasis on women, youth and children as well as the elderly.”
Sanctions, she said, had destroyed livelihoods while women and children were the worst affected.
“The Government having noted my passion, appointed me to be the ambassador for health for Zimbabwe, a position that I humbly accepted and I am doing my utmost best to ensure that the vulnerable get access to healthcare,” she said.
“As ambassador of health and also the patron of Angel of Hope Foundation, I used these portfolios to spearhead awareness campaigns on cancer, HIV, TB and Covid-19, among other diseases. The vehicle that we created to facilitate our humanitarian efforts is through Angel of Hope Foundation, a non-profit organisation which I founded and launched in February 2018.
“Our vision is to contribute to the empowering of vulnerable women and children through income generating and healthcare provision.”
The major objectives of Angel of Hope Foundation, she said, were to see vulnerable members of society access healthcare, uplift disadvantaged women, the physically challenged, the elderly, youth and children through resource provision and emergency response to communities by addressing both economic and social vulnerabilities to enable them to cope with various crises they will be facing.
Amai Mnangagwa said Angel of Hope Foundation sought to assist the most vulnerable irrespective of gender, race, religion, tribe or economic status.
“I believe that all persons deserve equal opportunities,” she said.
“I believe that the needs of the vulnerable matter. I also believe from the bottom of my heart that we should invest in and nurture our disadvantaged children so that their future becomes bright.
“I believe that when like-minds come together with a firm conviction to help the needy, they can transform our society, building a new and better Zimbabwe in which talents of every citizen manifest.”
Angel of Hope Foundation uses an integrated approach to community-owned and sustainable solutions in women’s economic empowerment, health and nutrition, social protection and emergency responses.
It has also been supporting underprivileged boys and girls from the country’s provinces with scholarships so that they can complete their studies.
“We opened doors for learners who might not have had an opportunity to further their education inclusive of all ages,” said the First Lady.
“Angel of Hope Foundation’s intervention comes at a time when most underprivileged families marry-off daughters of school-going age after failing to cater for their education, exposing them to serious health challenges and abuse.
“The foundation is also in the middle of building a mother and child hospital in Harare which will assist in making quality healthcare more accessible to the general populace.”
The First Lady told the gathering how her foundation, working through the traditional leadership, has spearheaded income generating projects in communities aimed at enhancing the standard of living of women.
She further chronicled how her foundation in partnership with the private sector and the donor community has managed to renovate health facilities mainly in rural settings and secure medical equipment and consumables.
She said there were social protection and emergency responses where water treatment chemicals were distributed as an integral part of the intervention for preventive measures against water-bone diseases.
The needs identification process, she said, was guided by existing knowledge resources through the national, provincial and district water, sanitation and hygiene working groups made up of UN agencies, NGOs, civil society and Government Departments or line ministries.
Furthermore, she thanked countries that donated towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, which donations went a long way in capacitating health institutions and national efforts.
Speaking at the same occasion, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Fredrick Shava expressed appreciation to the First Lady for affording diplomats an opportunity to relax and wind down after their engagements of the day.
“Allow me also to acknowledge the great philanthropic work of our First Lady and the remarkable role she plays as the country’s Ambassador for Health,” he said.
“As the Ambassador for Health, the First Lady has used her portfolio to spearhead awareness campaigns on cancer, HIV, TB and Covid-19 among other diseases.”
He added, “The First Lady has traversed the length and breadth of the country sowing seeds of hope, assisting those in need with food and resources, and most importantly teaching the young people our values and culture.”
He said Amai Mnangagwa’s strenuous efforts in uplifting the life of the girl child and women could not be understated.
“I have to acknowledge the First Lady for engaging in many projects and programmes around the country meant to minimize the dilapidating and indeed debilitating effects of sanctions on the ordinary citizens of the country,” he said.
In his vote of thanks, Acting Dean of the Diplomatic Corps South Sudan Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Gabriel Riak Mako praised the First Lady for the great work she is doing through her foundation to ease the plight of the less privileged.
“As a matter of fact, this social and humanitarian organisation you have formed for the children, especially of this nation, will make you not to be forgotten in the history of your country and its people since you are one of the few and the first to feel committed to serve the children at times of difficulties and needs, especially when the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the whole world in a big way or magnitude.
“However, I have no doubt that the diplomatic community members who are invited and present here in this function or activity in their various capacities will not hesitate to support you and back up your country’s non-profitable and well-thought organisation,” he said.