Joy as First Lady launches Masvingo Widows Association, medical outreach . . .  thousands get free screening for NCDs Iyasa drama and dance group performs on how relatives grab properties, ill-treat widows and the need to protect them upon the death of their husbands during the launch of Widows Association by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Masvingo yesterday.

Tendai Rupapa in MASHAVA

IT was double delight for the people of Masvingo Province yesterday, thanks to First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa who launched the Masvingo chapter of her First Lady’s Widows Association there together with a medical outreach programme where people received free health checks for non-communicable diseases as she steps up her empowerment initiatives.

The oversubscribed event also saw people undergoing screening for cervical, breast and prostate cancer as well as HIV testing.

Masvingo becomes the second province where the First Lady’s Widows Association has been launched for the benefit of thousands of widows and widowers after being successfully launched in Mashonaland West Province.

As a motivational factor, beneficiaries from Mashonaland West Province were part of yesterday’s programme where they shared information on how they are doing it with their colleagues from Masvingo Province.

Projects launched in Masvingo included poultry where widows from all the districts received chickens and feed enough for the birds to reach maturity.

All the seven districts also received goods for them to start tuckshops.

They were given drinks, water, sugar, flour and yoghurt for their new business.

In addition, the beneficiaries received farming inputs, chemicals and knapsack sprayers for the farming project.

Elderly women hug in celebration of the gift they received from First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for composing a song aimed at raising awareness about cholera during an interactive session in Masvingo yesterday.

Dr Mnangagwa, who is the country’s health and child care ambassador, thanked the Province for voting back President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF in the August 23 harmonised elections, paving the way for her to continue with her empowerment programmes.

“I wish to thank you a lot and thank God for enabling us to meet here today. We want a fighting spirit in us as women. We must not just wait to receive goods and clap hands. Work for yourself as a woman. In their play, my children from IYASA showed us the trials and tribulations of widows, how they are disowned, stripped of properties by greedy relatives and inherited. 

“In the end the widow will be frequenting beerhalls, but we say no to this. These are common challenges for widows, but not in this country where we have laws protecting them. I will come back with relevant stakeholders so that you are taught and informed of your rights as widows thus, knowing what the law says. I am encouraging all of us to unite and work together. 

“I have come to strengthen and mould madzimai who were left with children to look after. God loves you and he will never give you a burden you cannot bear. I have come to transform your lives. If there were bad names you were given in your communities, I have come to rub them. 

“I have come to give you a new name which is informed by how you walk, talk and live with others. Some widows wear miniskirts and revealing attire, mudzimai ngaapfeke zvinhu zvine hunhu zvakadzikama. Arise munhukadzi and occupy your rightful place and quit gossiping and clubbing. In my office I have a 575 National Gender Based Violence call centre. 

“Phone there and we discuss issues that affect us as women. As women are we maintaining hygiene from our bodies to our households and surroundings in view of cholera?” she asked.

“But what causes cholera?” 

In response people said cholera was caused by contaminated water supplies, foods and drinks sold in unhygienic conditions, vegetables and fruits not washed or grown with water containing human waste and raw sewage.

An elderly woman said: “When people defecate in the open, their faeces can contaminate the environment, including water supply. When people drink this contaminated water, they can become infected with the bacteria that causes cholera,” she said before she was joined by her colleague and they performed a song raising awareness against cholera.

The two elderly women received a gift from the First Lady for their song.

The First Lady implored the people to practice good hygiene at all times and take measures to end the spread of cholera.

The mother of the nation thanked her Angel of Hope Foundation’s partners for their continued support.

“Women today I say these projects I have brought are your new spouses. We say no to those who snatch people’s husbands, we want those who work for themselves. I have partners for Angel of Hope Foundation who assist me as alone I cannot manage.”

“Therefore, they gave me goods so that you start tuckshops to become financially stable to look after your families. 

“I first brought the Zimbabwe Open University so that you could do short courses to be able to run your projects. You were taught business management and financial literacy among other courses. I have brought these projects so that you kick-start your businesses. 

Use the courses obtained from ZOU since today brings the practical of what you learnt. We reject gossipers who pull others back. We want to work in unity and in groups,” she said.

 

Iyasa drama and dance group performs imitating how relatives grab properties ill-treat widows upon the death of their husbands during the launch of First Ladies Widows Association by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Masvingo yesterday.

She gave a brief background of how she started the association.

“I started in Mashonaland West Province where I launched this Association and the beneficiaries are doing very well. Today I have come with the Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Amai Marian Chombo who is here to inspire you and to tell you how we started and where we are today. Widowers too are part of this programme,” she said.

Minister Chombo said, “I say the people of Masvingo you are very lucky because you are now learning from us as the pioneers of the First Lady’s Widow’s Association. Amai told us that when choosing a committee ensure that you do not select an individual with other posts or someone who is not a widow because if you do so, the programme will not proceed well. 

“She said see to it that you rope in widows, not those who lost their husbands and remarried. This is because if you are led by someone who does not experience what you go through they do not understand your pain so understand the fact that a widow must lead other widows. 

“We were also lucky as Mash West that some of our widows had undergone training from ZOU in partnership with the Angel of Hope Foundation. This made it easy for them when they started their projects.

When choosing a treasurer, ensure you select the appropriate person to handle money. Like what Amai said, when widowed you should remain trustworthy and not spend time in bars. When the First Lady came she gave us capital and we haggled over who would keep the money, but we realised the money should not be kept but used to empower the people. Amai initiated many projects for the widows including tuckshops and goatrearing,” she said. 

Minister Chombo said one of the groups bought goats with the capital from Amai Mnangagwa and multiplied it.

“They went to buy 70 goats from Kariba to start another project on top of those initiated by the First Lady. We were lucky that on the day we were given resources by the First Lady, we also received 21 goats from her which we distributed to our districts. 

“The goats were serviced and of high quality. We were given groceries just like the ones you received today and my advise to you is do not fight but unite and work hard in groups. 

“This is what Amai taught us. Work together well and if one of you is gifted in selling in the shop, give them the opportunity so that you succeed. Our mother is looking at uplifting women so let us use this opportunity we have been given so that we grow bigger,” she said.

Yesterday, the widows were made to come up with committees of five plus a focal person from all districts as was the case in Mashonaland West Province.

Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services Chaplain Christine Phiri spoke glowingly about the First Lady’s love and endless efforts to ease the plight of vulnerable members of society.

“Our mother has come specifically for widows and widowers today. No one chooses to be a widow and she has come to comfort us. The word of God reinforces that true worship is characterised by looking after widows and orphans. 

“The First Lady is saying if your late husband did not go with your hands, get into the field and work. She says no to widows who frequent bars in favour of those who use their hands and preserve the wealth that was left by their spouses. 

“What do children learn from a mother who changes boyfriends? Being widowed is not a passport for promiscuity. Your body is the temple of the Lord, refuse to be defiled and lowered in stature by bad behaviour. It is laziness if you wait for handouts from men,” she said before bursting into the song Shanda.

Chaplain Phiri said widows did not need to be always in mourning mode but to work. 

Part of the crowd that attended the launch of Widows Association by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Masvingo yesterday. Pictures: John Manzongo.

“Amai is bringing projects for you so that you are self-sustained and look after your children without getting into bars. Go to the fields with the children, do projects with them so that they learn from us. If you are left ill by your spouse, take your medication as prescribed and rise to work. Illness is not written on anyone’s forehead. Our mother is imploring us to bath, work and refuse to be suppressed. Kusashanda hunyope,” she said using today’s lexicon “kudhara ikoko”.

Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira extolled the First Lady for her compassion, determination and commitment to empowering widows and the less privileged.

“Today’s gathering holds special significance as it is a demonstration of the First Lady’s unwavering tenacity and resoluteness to uplifting the lives of many across our society. We are thus thankful and continue to be grateful to you Amai. Tinotenda Chipavhurire achakodzwa Proverbs 11vs 25. 

As Masvingo Province we equally celebrate the strength and resilience of women, widows and single mothers through their hard work at various levels to recognize the power of empowerment in transforming lives,” he said.

As a multi-faceted ambassador, Minister Chadzamira said the First Lady had shown relentless efforts in championing the cause of broad-based empowerment.

“Through your initiatives and programmes such as Nhanga/Gota/Ixhiba, detergent making, traditional meal cookout competitions and cancer screening among others, many countless lives have been transformed by way of providing opportunities, inspiration and support to those who need it most. Masvingo will forever cherish your development work. We are indeed proud of your impactful programmes and projects,” he said.

Beneficiaries from Mashonaland West Province also gave their testimonies.

Mrs Forntunate Marara, a widow from Mashonaland West Province, shared her insights.

“I am truly thankful for what the First Lady did for us. She gave us capital to start projects that will uplift all widows from Zvimba district. She also initiated various income generating projects for us. We started by multiplying the capital through buying and selling of goats and groceries. 

“We also cultivated beans and sorghum in our groups where all widows are working together showing unity as taught by our mother and we really thank the First Lady for launching this Association. Madzimai takapihwa zvirauro handei tinoraura hove tiraramise mhuri,” she said.

Mrs Sithembiso Kanyongo from Hurungwe punched the air with excitement.

“Forward with Amai Mnangagwa and let those who want to work follow her. I am thankful to our First Lady for the widows association that she launched for us to get a wherewithal. Amai vakatipa maprojects akawanda akutobereka mamwe maprojects. 

“Using our profits, we now want to start a milling company where we will be grinding sorghum and millet that we will be packaging and selling. We also wish to venture into the sale of plastic ware which is on demand from most households. we also want to sell kitchen ware. 

“All thanks to our dear mother. We say welcome to the club madzimai and as the pioneers we are there to guide you,” she said.

Mrs Nyaradzai Sigwadhe from Masvingo thanked the First Lady for remembering them.

“I am very thankful for what the First Lady has done for us here today. She brought us medical personnel to test us for non communicable diseases like hypertension and diabetes, including cervical cancer screening.

“As widows she has also remembered us. Vatipa chiremerera Amai, tave vanhuwo pane vamwe. We promise to work hard and look after our children. We appreciate her love and kindness,” she said.

Similar words were echoed by Mrs Sheila Mparutsa.

“I lost my husband few years ago and thought the world had collapsed on me. I was however relieved when the First Lady came up with projects for us to benefit and realise income to look after our families in a more dignified way. What the First Lady is doing has managed to transform the lives of most people and I wish to thank her heartily wishing her a long life filled with blessings,” she said.

The First Lady donated maize-meal to everyone who attended.

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