First Lady’s skills development programme boosts youths, young mothers and fathers
Tendai Rupapa and Blessings Chidakwa
In a bid to help young mothers and fathers to develop stronger and healthier marriages built on a foundation of trust, communication, mutual respect, hard work and free from drug abuse, domestic violence and divorce, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa on Thursday launched a programme aimed at empowering them and creating long-lasting marriages.
Amai Mnangagwa did not only spend the day interacting with those in new marriage union and those about to get married, but through her Angel of Hope Foundation (AOH) and its partners, she initiated several income generating projects for them.
The projects include detergents and petroleum jelly making, carpentry, dress making, cosmetology, ICT, cellphone and computer repairing.
Upon completing the training, which is being done in batches and still ongoing due to the overwhelming response, they will receive certificates from Angel of Hope.
Her aim is to economically empower them through skills training.
The first of its kind programme, will cascade to all the country’s 10 provinces.
After the success of Nharirire Yemusha and male engagement programmes targeting the elderly who voiced concern over rising cases of divorce in young couples and the behaviour of today’s daughters and sons-in-law, Dr Mnangagwa decided to have a discussion with them to address their marital problems, and explore how to resolve them and achieve family stability.
Dr Mnangagwa realised that the young adults could benefit from the support and guidance of skills trainers, professional therapists, the elderly, and she took them along for the benefit of the young mothers and fathers.
Criminal Investigation Drugs and Narcotics division officers show young mothers and fathers different types of harmful drugs during an interactive session with First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Harare
The two groups separated, with the men and women having separate discussions on various topics.
They later regrouped for a joint session where they came up with resolutions that will help in building strong marriages.
Welcoming and addressing the women, Dr Mnangagwa said her programme was non-partisan and was looking forward to interacting with young women from all walks of life.
“This programme is for all young women, hazvinei kuti wabva kupi kana kuti uri wechurch ipi but we have come to discuss and share ideas. Feel free to express yourselves because we are all here to learn and teach each other,” she said.
Chaplain Christine Phiri from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) spoke on the need for young women to be confident in themselves.
“The main reason which is stopping young women to rise is that they look down upon themselves. You must have self-confidence and believe in yourselves.
“It does not matter whether you are educated or not, light skinned or dark skinned, slender or big; that doesn’t count. We are all women, so rise up and move away from your comfort zone,” she said.
Young mothers and fathers sewing different types of garments during their training in dress making by Angel of Hope Foundation and its partners in Harare
She encouraged the women not to let their backgrounds define them.
“A woman is nothing else but what she makes of herself. Where you are coming from is not what defines you, but where you are going. No matter what you are going through in life or marriage, you can rise above your background.
“Nobody or circumstance must be the reason why you fail in life. Learn to take responsibility and ownership of your future. Myself, if I had allowed my past experiences to define me, I would not be where I am today.
“Rise up from your comfort zone of unproductive things and be counted in life. Delete friends that do not push you forward, friends that are not productive, friends that are only there for gossiping. Today’s woman, rise up and claim your space,” she said.
Evangelist Nelly Gwatidzo touched on the definition of a mother and the importance of communication in a marriage.
“A mother is like a fireplace; she gives warmth, words that come from her mouth are sweet and constructive. She is a selfless and loving human who sacrifices many of her wants and needs for the wants and needs of her family.
“A mother does not select her children; she loves them equally. A good woman is submissive to her husband, forgives and loves her husband no matter what circumstances,” she said.
Evangelist Gwatidzo said communication is one of the strongest pillars of a marriage.
“While quality time, forgiveness and communication are vitally important to creating a happy marriage, if such things aren’t happening, it’s usually a sign of a much-deeper problem.
“To avoid these problems, let us learn to practise effective communication in our marriages to avoid domestic violence that usually leads to divorce,” she said.
Young fathers making different types of household furniture during their training in carpentry initiated by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa through her Angel of Hope Foundation and its partners in Harare
Gogo Ebba Makore hammered on personal hygiene and conjugal rights.
She said a bedroom is not a courtroom.
Mrs Abigail Mapfumo spoke on family relations, extended families and challenges in marriages, relationship between mothers-in-law and their daughters-in-law, and sisters-in-law and daughters-in-law.
Ms Sheila Mandebvu, a professional make-up artist, took the women through grooming and personal hygiene.
Representing the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Mrs Takesure Murwisi, had an empowerment talk with the women where she educated them on what the Women Development Fund is all about and how they can access it.
She gave the women project ideas and told them to also source markets for their products.
Dr Mnangagwa then led an open discussion.
She said they had come up with the ideal mother “we want, and we are now new creatures”.
“We want a hardworking woman who shuns gossip, who does projects using her hands and helping her husband to look after the family,” she said, before the women took turns to point out the main causes of domestic violence with drug abuse and cheating by their husbands taking the lead.
Men held their own discussions where they openly talked about the sacredness of marriage including roles of a man and conjugal rights.
Among other issues tackled were upholding good morals, fighting the scourges of gender-based violence, drug and substance abuse, instilling discipline in their children, promoting cultural values among men and promiscuity.
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa interacts with young mothers and fathers who were being trained by her Angel of Hope Foundation in ICT where they were repairing cellphones and computers in Harare. – Pictures: John Manzongo and Innocent Makawa
Harare Metropolitan Permanent Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr Tafadzwa Muguti, who led the men’s discussions, urged them to be solution givers instead of always being cry-babies.
“Money follows a vision. Take this opportunity to start engaging in various life changing projects that have been brought by Amai,” he said.
Mr Muguti also spoke on the dangers of drug and substance abuse.
Pastor Alec Matimba taught about the roles of a man in a marriage, saying marriage was sanctified by God.
“We should learn to respect our women as our other halves since from the beginning, it was God’s intention that we should be one flesh. Also it is a man’s responsibility to provide for the wife and family.
“Communication is also key in marriage. Always talk in a manner that builds your relationship with your wife,” he said.
Pastor Matimba discouraged promiscuity saying it leads to sexually transmitted diseases and destroys families.
Principal economist, Mr Malven Magonda, educated the men on the success of projects and how men can access Community Development Fund from the Government through its ministries.
Before the combined session, Amai Mnangagwa took time to engage the youths and the young mothers and fathers who were undergoing training in different projects.
Some were being done at Harare Polytechnic College while others had their training at Danhiko.
“I brought these projects so that I can build confidence in you. I want you all to be empowered so that you will be able to sustain yourselves and your families. I urge you to form groups and start these projects in groups.
“Women’s Bank, Empowerbank and the Ministry of Women Affairs are all here today to help you, make use of them. Vanangu drugs are destroying many people especially your age mates and I do not want you to be involved. These projects are my way of telling you that drugs are dangerous, leave them and focus on productive things.
“Ukaswera wakadhakwa, will you be able to work? No. So izvi tirikuti no to drugs; occupy yourselves with productive things like income generating projects. I want to hear success stories from these projects,” she said.
Mr Edmore Musakaruka, who benefited from the carpentry project, applauded Amai Mnangagwa for affording them a chance to do carpentry.
“I thank Amai, the First Lady for this carpentry project. I am now going to start my own things, manufacturing furniture like stools, pushing trays, wardrobes, even coffins as I now have the knowledge,” he said.
Another beneficiary, Mr Godknows Vhinandi, said he was taught how to use carpentry machinery including carpentry planes.
He said they were also taught how to professionally cut timber and to identify trees through dents.
“I encourage my fellow youths who enjoy basking in the sun in the streets to join the empowerment initiatives by the First Lady. We thank her for bringing this noble programme in which we are benefiting freely,” he said.
A dress making course beneficiary, Ms Criana Gapare, said the course was a game-changer.
“This course teaches me that women should be empowered doing life changing projects.
“I will no longer be dependent on anyone as I will manage to make ends meet. Our First Lady initiated this course saying we should learn to work with our own hands,” she said.
Mr Tadiwanashe Monga, who is among the few males doing the dressing making course, thanked Amai Mnangagwa for the empowering project.
“I always had a passion for dress making since I also used to do shoemaking. I can now start up my own business combining both since they work hand in glove,” he said
Addressing the combined gathering, Dr Mnangagwa thanked them for coming out in numbers.
“I am happy you came out in your numbers so that we sit down tichiumba nekugadzirisa dzimhuri looking at the definition of a mother and a father. After getting married, we do not expect you to divorce, all we want is for you to live in harmony and raise your children together till death separates you,” she said.
“If God blessed your marriage, why then entertain divorce. If there are challenges in your marriage, talk to your God and he will fix the problems. Put God first in your marriages, make him the foundation of your marriage. Also for a marriage to work, commitment and dedication is needed. The way you got married or you met also contributes to a marriage.
“Vana vangu are you getting into marriages knowing what you are getting yourselves into, did you pass through the courtship stage?”
She also spoke on the projects she brought through her foundation and its partners.
“These projects will see cases of domestic violence declining because I have empowered both the wife and the husband. We are saying no to drug abuse, use your time wisely. What are you saying about drugs?” she asked.
In response the gathering unanimously said “no to drugs they are killing our future, they are destroying our lives.”
Another participant said drugs were also fuelling divorce because of men who fail to perform in the bedroom due to the effects of drug abuse.
The First Lady said she had come to give people fishing rods (projects) hence should leave drugs before telling the gathering what she heard from a certain woman in another province.
“I recently visited another province and when I was interacting with the audience on the dangers of drug abuse, one young woman said to me: “Amai thank you for coming, personally I have a problem in my marriage being caused by these drugs. When I married Francis, I did not know he was into drugs. Whenever he gets money, he spends it on drugs and becomes abusive. I then decided to tell his parents thinking they might counsel him.
“To my surprise when I got to their house, his father was heavily intoxicated taking ‘tumbwa’. He could not even recognise me. I then proceeded to my mother-in-law, she was also drunk. The whole family was high on drugs. I was shattered, I could not tell them my problems and went back to my house to the same man who is abusing me. I love him Mama but I do not know where to get help. I am glad you came today to talk to my in-laws, Francis and his like-minded colleagues who are abusing drugs. I love my husband”.
“I said to her, don’t worry mwanangu I will talk to him. So today I have come to talk to Francis and I hope you have listened and will stay away from drugs,” she said.
Chaplain Phiri further addressed both men and women on the dos and don’ts in a marriage.
Police Insp Dorcas Kanyemba from provincial Victim Friendly Unit spoke on GBV saying per month in Harare alone they were recording hundreds cases of GBV.
Sgt Letty Kundizeza from drugs and narcotics spoke on the dangers of body enlargement drugs, skin lightening creams, ecstasy tablets, mutoriro, mbanje, guka, crystal meth.
The programme ended with Mrs Panashe Manja and Mr Courage Mudhucha representing women and men, laying out resolutions.
“As we women we have agreed that we are there to stay in our marriages, we are not going anywhere because you are the fathers of our children. We promise to love you, our husbands, honor you and be submissive all the time.
“We love you and all we ask from you is to love us back and shun drugs. The more you are intoxicated, the more you abuse us. Respect us as your wives and we will respect you and help you to raise our children in peace,” she said.
Mr Mudhucha said: “We are happy that you resolved never to leave us. We are like children; we get carried away by small things but all we ask from you is forgiveness. We promise to love and respect you. We have also agreed as men that drugs are dangerous and we will speak against them at all times. However, we are pleading with you, our wives, to bath the way you used to before we got married. Ko kugeza kwehumhandara makaisepi,” he said.