Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
ACADEMICALLY-GIFTED children from disadvantaged families in the country’s 10 provinces are benefiting from scholarships offered by the Russian Government through First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Angel of Hope Foundation.
So committed to the education of less privileged children is the First Lady that she does not tire in making sure that they further their education.
The scholarships are for the fields of medicine, electrical engineering, software engineering, biology, pharmacy, mining and biology technological systems.
This is not the first group to benefit from Angel of Hope’s scholarships and the move dovetails with Amai Mnangagwa’s ongoing empowerment initiatives to ensure no one is left behind.
Yesterday Amai Mnangagwa held a reception for the beneficiaries that include boys and girls and their parents/guardians where she emphasised the need for them to be morally upright and not yield to undue influences which may give the country a bad name.
The beneficiaries and their parents/guardians also spoke of the challenges they faced and thanked the First Lady for her benevolence before signing indemnity forms to show their approval of the decision to send their children to Russia on scholarship.
Ecstatic at having been awarded a scholarship was Constantine Chigowe (20) of Domboshava who was chased away from home by his parents for asking to pursue Advanced Level studies. The parents flatly refused to grant him his wish saying pursuing “A” Level studies was against their church’s doctrine.
“After completing my Ordinary Level, my parents told me that I could no longer continue with my education saying this was against the church’s doctrine. Despite this, I went to find an A level place and I would do gold panning to go to school.
“My parents then chased me away from home for choosing education over their church’s doctrine. I left home but I had nowhere to go.
“Since I was into gold panning to raise school fees, sometimes I would sleep in the mine shaft and leave for school in the morning or would sleep at school sometimes until an elder of another church whom i did not know took me in. He then helped me with school fees for my A Level and I got 27 points.
“I will be studying Biology in Russia and this was made possible by our mother the First Lady and her Angel of Hope Foundation,” he said.
Another beneficiary, Davison Musesinyani (19), of Seke said he just could not believe that his dream had come true.
“My father passed away in 2011 when I was in Grade Four. We are three boys in our family and I am the youngest. Life became difficult and our mother was a vendor and raising us from the proceeds thereof. Our fees came from that but she would face difficulties raising enough money for the three of us.
“From primary school up to Form Four, I was under the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam). My mother later died in 2018 while I was about to sit for my Ordinary Level exams,” he said.
When the mother died, the eldest sibling was in college and relatives were not willing to help.
“We last saw them at the funeral and they never came to our rescue. A well-wisher came forward and offered to help me complete my O Level studies. I passed with 10 As.
“When I was in Form Five, my brother went into teaching and he is the one who has been looking after us since then.”
He thanked the First Lady and the Russian Government for the opportunity she has afforded him to further his studies.
Davison’s brother, Donovan (24) fought back tears as he thanked the First Lady for what she had done.
“The burden of looking after my brothers was hard to bear because when he passed his Ordinary Level, I had no money as I was also looking for a job.
“I am thankful for the opportunity that has been availed by the First lady and I thank her for what she has done for my brother and other beneficiaries. May she continue with such good a heart,” he said.
A beneficiary from Kwekwe, Dorcas Dziike said challenges started in 2015 when her father took another wife following her mother’s death.
“My mother died in 2013 while I was in Grade 7. After two years my father married a new wife and went to live with her leaving us all alone at home. My two siblings also left to look for work and I remained behind with my younger sister up to now.
“Things were really bad for us but with the assistance of the First Lady, I wish to prove that girls can do well in life when granted the opportunity. If you educate a girl child, you have educated the nation,” she said.
A parent, Mrs Patience Marango thanked the First Lady for her initiative to send children to Russia saying she did not know how to proceed after the children completed their Advanced Level studies.
“As for me, life was difficult following the death of my husband some years ago,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa took time to counsel the children about the importance of education. She thanked the Russian Government for the scholarships.
“I have invited you as parents and guardians because your children were selected to benefit from scholarships which came from the Russian Government through my Angel of Hope Foundation which identified these deserving students.
“Vana vangu (my children), you are going to other people’s countries and we expect you to live in an exemplary and dignified manner. We do not want to hear bad reports. When out there alone, you are the one who choose what to do in your life and we want you to treasure education and bring good results. We do not want children from Zimbabwe to be branded as mischievous. You are our future leaders and we look up to you therefore bring certificates and work for your country.
“If you misbehave you will embarrass me, your parents and your country because you are carrying the nation’s flag. We say no to peer pressure. Your background must push you to do good. Parents and guardians let’s be united in raising our children to have good moral values. God bless you and protect you because Satan always wants to disturb good things,” she said.
Dr Wadzanai Kachere from the Office of the President and Cabinet (Presidential and National Scholarships) paid tribute to the First Lady for her intervention which lightened the burden for ordinary citizens.
“I thank you for such good works of assisting children who are gifted but are facing challenges. Our office looks for academically gifted children who are disadvantaged. We feel uplifted that you are supporting our office through your deeds and we are thankful,” said Dr Kachere.
In 2020, 100 secondary pupils benefited from Amai Mnangagwa’s scholarship programme through her foundation covering girls from different communities in all the country’s 10 provinces.
Last year, while working with her foundation’s partners, she also paid school fees for the whole year for all pupils at Simukai Primary School in Seke and Maypark School in Mashonaland Central.
She also has a scholarships programme at Prince Edward which she started during her tenure as Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe legislator.