Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
CASES of single ladies resorting to prostitution could start declining if they embrace economic empowerment programmes being rolled out by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa countrywide, for them to sustain themselves, their families and stay healthy.
A hands-on person, the First Lady has since assuming office spared no effort in ensuring that she reaches every corner of the country to get first-hand information on issues affecting mostly women, children, less privileged groups and provide tangible solutions.
Through her Angel of Hope Foundation, hard-to-reach parts of the country have not been left behind in terms of access to food, education and healthcare.
After assessing the needs of vulnerable communities, Amai Mnangagwa sets up income-generating projects for them as a way of empowering them.
The mother of the nation has also been spreading love to the elderly, disabled, orphans and widows.
She is leading in the rehabilitation of children living and working on the streets to ensure they are equipped with education, vocational skills like carpentry, motor mechanics and farming to fend for themselves.
Her programmes and projects are non-partisan and the list of her initiatives is endless.
To date, her humanitarian support programmes have benefited thousands of food-insecure households in the rural and urban areas. Commercial sex workers have not been left behind as the First Lady is offering them projects to earn “clean” money. Discouraging prostitution, the First Lady, who is also the country’s health ambassador, said it was important for them to work hard.
She introduced single women in Seke communal lands who were engaging in commercial sex work to income-generating projects like farming, poultry and detergent-making.
The Seke women will soon start farming after Amai Mnangagwa assisted them in applying for a piece of land where they will grow crops, while carrying out other projects, also through her Angel of Hope Foundation.
A borehole has already been drilled.
Even commercial sex workers in Epworth also benefited from the empowerment programmes as they now have sewing clubs, cooking clubs and soap and detergent-making ventures, courtesy of the First Lady.
Recently, she gathered single mothers in Chivhu who had resorted to prostitution to take care of their families and convinced them to start income generating projects like farming.
She also implored the women and all guests at the function to embrace the Pfumvudza Programme which ensured food self-sufficiency at household level.
In a speech read on her behalf by Zimbabwe Women’s Bank chief executive Dr Mandas Marikanda at an interface with single mothers and girls in Chivhu, the First Lady said the women should do small grain farming to feed their families with healthy food.
“I have come here as a follow up after I was informed that most of the women who had turned into social vices to earn a living are willing to shun their acts and start doing projects to feed their families,” she said.
“As women, you should be firm enough to work hard and bring food to the table. Let us embrace the Pfumvudza programme, which is meant to alleviate hunger, especially in rural areas. This will help you secure food at household level.
“I also urge you to embrace small grain farming so that you can secure healthy food for your children.”
Amai Mnangagwa urged women to work in groups so that they could harvest in abundance. She also introduced new projects for the women’s benefit.
“As patron of Angel of Hope Foundation, I have come with new projects which can help you earn a living,” said the First Lady. “Some of these projects include baking, manufacturing detergents like soap and lotions. I hope you will embrace the knowledge I am giving you and use it to transform your lives.”
The First Lady discouraged women from terminating pregnancies as this could affect their health.
“For those who were impregnated out of wedlock and got dumped, do not lose hope,” she said.
“Do not ever think of terminating that pregnancy because you might risk having diseases like cervical cancer.
“There is life after break-ups and as a woman you have to take responsibility of your children by working hard to bring food to the table.”
The First Lady handed over bakery equipment, flour, chip frier and potatoes to the women to kick-start the projects.
One of the beneficiaries, Pamela Katsora, recounted her experience as a commercial sex worker and thanked the First Lady for showing concern.
“I got into this profession when I was 16-years-old,” she said.
“I thought it was the only solution to life. I am so excited that Amai has come to our rescue with her projects. We want more of these projects so that we become prominent business women.
“We will never look back at our painful life again.”
Minister of State for Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Aplonia Munzverengwi, thanked the First Lady for showing concern to different vulnerable groups in her province.
“I would like to thank Amai for giving us the opportunity to focus on marginalised groups, which are women and children,” she said.
“She has come to empower vulnerable single mothers and young girls who turned to social vices. Her charity work would help eradicate poverty and improve the livelihood of women.”
Chikomba West legislator Dr John Mangwiro, who is also the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, praised the First Lady for her philanthropic work.