First Lady’s charity work inspires US foundation Angel of Hope Foundation patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa poses with founder and executive director of Aspire Artemis Foundation Ms Hermina Jonny after their meeting in New York yesterday. — Pictures: John Manzongo

Tendai Rupapa in NEW YORK, United States

ANGEL of Hope Foundation patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday held cordial and mutually beneficial discussions with Ms Hermina Jonny, the founder and executive director of Aspire Artemis Foundation (AAF) who expressed willingness to partner her in philanthropic work.

Ms Jonny also proposed to bring a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Culture and Mathematics (STEAM) symposium to Zimbabwe in partnership with Angel of Hope Foundation.

The symposium, to be powered by private sector companies including technology giant, Microsoft, seeks to raise awareness and understanding of STEAM concepts and principles, thereby inspiring and driving innovation and creativity.

This comes at a time when her Angel of Hope Foundation and its partners are delivering high-tech innovation hubs to primary schools in Zimbabwe to afford children exposure to modern ICT-based education.

Government is also spearheading the formation of innovation hubs at tertiary institutions to promote creativity and technological solutions.

AAF is a charity organisation committed to promoting cultural exchange and holistic educational training opportunities to youths in marginalised communities across the globe.

During the meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) here, Ms Jonny expressed her admiration for the First Lady and her efforts to empower vulnerable communities especially women and the girl child.

She said she was inspired by the First Lady’s hands on approach and her community involvement hence her willingness to support the foundation towards youth skills capacity building.

Angel of Hope Foundation patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa during her meeting with founder and executive director of Aspire Artemis Foundation Ms Hermina Jonny in New York yesterday

The First Lady extended an invitation to Ms Jonny to visit Zimbabwe saying the partnership would go a long way in enhancing educational innovations.

Ms Jonny said she has been following the First Lady’s works closely and had seen videos of the life-changing initiatives Amai Mnangagwa is doing to transform the lives of women, children those with disabilities, among many other disadvantaged groups.

“I was tremendously moved when I watched videos online of how you go into the communities doing programmes that help women to rebuild lives, to rebuild sustenance and have dignity in everything that they do. At Aspire Artemis Foundation we do something very similar to what you do and you do it on a wide scale. It’s incredibly impactful and the lives of those people who are impacted on a daily basis when they can go back and then transform other communities around the world, how that can change someone’s life,” she said passionately.

At her foundation, Ms Jonny said, they empower women and children through highlighting the achievements of female change-makers like the First Lady who have gone and done so much work on the ground and being with the people.

“I want people around the world to understand and connect and see the work that Angel of Hope Foundation is doing. So through our foundation, our journey is to retell your stories in a light that it should be cast in,” she said.

After the meeting, Ms Jonny spoke glowingly about the meeting she had had with Dr Mnangagwa.

“It was amazing speaking with the First Lady of Zimbabwe. What she is doing on the ground, the lives that she is changing, she deserves our support. I am so honoured to be working with her and bringing the STEAM programme to Zimbabwe. We will be working together and having these conversations in STEAM kicking off with her having a conversation with someone younger than her who wants to go into the humanitarian development field and how her journey has led her to where she has and inspiring the younger generation to do the incredible work that she continues to do on the ground.

“Dr Mnangagwa is indeed a mother of the nation, she goes to be with the people in remote areas, she is humble, kind-hearted and her love for the people is unmatched. She goes to meet with young people, the elderly, taking off all the titles that she wears because to her ‘First Lady’ is just a name, what she does with the people to the people is what is important to her. Meeting with the people, being in communities with them and changing their lives, igniting businesses, is so dear to her and close to her heart. This really touches us. I think the STEAM symposia and the cultural traditions that she always spoke of, will go hand in glove,” she said.

The Aspire Artemis Foundation Founder described Africa as a creative continent and Zimbabwe as awash with talent.

“The African continent is a creative continent. Zimbabwe is filled with creative people who are waiting for the opportunity for their ideas to have impact. I think bringing this STEAM programme to Zimbabwe locally and connecting them with people on the African Diaspora from the Caribbean, from Europe, from the US and showing them that there are people in other parts of the world who look exactly like them and who are taking these opportunities and reinventing themselves and doing things that they were born to do, not doing things they were taught to do and doing things that they love and she does that within the communities that she goes into and there are wide range possibilities that have now been opened up to people in far-flung communities. A grandmother, a grandfather are getting education certificates courtesy of AOH Foundation.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, what age you are. If you have an idea of an opportunity it is possible for you and she has been doing that on the ground so it only need sense for us at the Aspire Artemis Foundation to work with her to continue to amplify that work and take that tremendous change-making ability this force of a woman across into the Caribbean and here in the united states, in Canada and all over the world to show that we are connected and are one family and we can create as young women, as mothers, as sisters, as brothers. We are one human family and we can work together and make possibilities for each other,” she said.

The Steam programme that her organization does, she said, was done in partnership with Microsoft to be able to bring technological change and digital upskilling opportunities as well as opportunities in participating countries.

“The possibility they will have will be amplified we also do training before we get into countries where we do this digital upskilling in collaboration with Microsoft to teach young people skills. So that will definitely be combined with the work that we are going to do with the First Lady as well. At Aspire Artemis Foundation we work through public private partnerships and we have established partnerships with organisations across the world that are part of our Steam and we also gave the STEAM programme as one UN programme, the equals programme with the international telecommunications union of the United Nations and we work in partnership as well with other industry leaders and partners global citizen as well who are part of our steam programme and we amplify the work of the colleagues that we work with as well and it is the young people who benefit from these opportunities and we take them into other countries as well,” she said.

The First Lady narrated the work she is doing back home, including taking back people to school free of charge regardless of age.

“I work with local universities to ensure they acquire certificates that they never had across all ages including the grandfathers and grand mothers in the rural areas. They now have certificates from a university. I also made sure that they received training in business so that they will be able to handle their small businesses which would eventually grow. Also financial discipline is very important when you get the money, therefore, they are also enrolling for business management short course,” the First Lady said.

Dr Mnangagwa said empowering communities, families, was also a way of reducing Gender-based violence issues which mainly led to high divorce cases.

“Things are moving in the direction I want looking at community empowerment. I am giving them skills and i have not yet finished, I am forging ahead with my empowerment programmes. I will make sure lives are touched and changed through my Angel of Hope Foundation.

“I love being around people. It is us as mothers who are supposed to lift the spirits of those who are troubled, we unite people. I am happy my sister when we meet as women because the concerns are the same, concerns that affect humanity. Helping others is in me, philanthropy is in my blood so partnering with your foundation will go a long way,” she said.

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