By Rumbidzai Ngwenya
Ever since she came into the political limelight, First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa’s role has shifted from domestic responsibility to a much more programmatic orientation.
With rare commitment and love for the less privileged, she spends much of her time doing philanthropic work, particularly with less privileged communities such as the Doma and San people, widows and orphans of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and spearheading campaigns to fight cancer and promote quality healthcare delivery.
It’s not everyday that a country gets a First Lady with a big heart for the poor and less privileged.
The First Lady is not in the news for nothing. She has taken bold steps to support less privileged communities such as the San and the Doma people in remote parts of the country.
For decades these people have been left out. It has never happened in the history of this country that the First Lady becomes the voice of humanitarian relief to the less privileged Doma and San people.
She has been consistent in carrying out activities to uplift the livelihoods of these marginalised people.
Under the banner of her non-political organisation, Angel of Hope Foundation, the First Lady visited the Masoka, Mariga and Chapoto villages in Kanyemba, Mashonaland Central Province in May this year, where she interacted with the Doma people.
Not only did her visit bring joy to the community, but hope for a better life.
During her visit, the Doma people raised concerns pertaining to their welfare and the general lack of health facilities in the area.
The health facility she recently opened is well-equipped. For a long time, the Doma people had no easy access to health facilities. Her initiative brought easy access to health.
Before this, the Doma people walked more than 12km to the nearest clinic, and some even crossed the crocodile-infested Zambezi River on canoes or boats into Zambia to seek medical assistance.
Women and children were the worst affected. Most women have been giving birth at home, but now things have changed for the better, thanks to the First Lady.
She supported the Doma community fish farming and garden projects as well as donating educational materials and shoes for children at Mariga School. This has brought much cheer to this community.
During all her visits, the First Lady also donated a variety of goods to the community that included rice, maize and cooking oil, kitchen utensils, sanitary wear, blankets, babywear, stationery, education equipment, toys and shoes to school children and many more.
In addition to this, every time she visited Kanyemba, she also brought a medical team which offered services for free to the community.
The First Lady also took the opportunity to engage the community on social issues such as domestic violence and child marriages, HIV and Aids and mostly cancer.
She also extended her humanitarian work to the San people in the southern part of the country.
During her visits to the San community, the First Lady became the voice of humanitarian relief for them.
She amplified the needs of this community by calling on all Government agents to build more schools, healthcare facilities and other important infrastructure in the area. Poor rainfall, lack of farming inputs and equipment were some of the challenges facing the community.
The First Lady said the challenges being faced by the San community were similar to those faced by the Doma community in Kanyemba.
“What I have seen here is not so different from what I saw in Kanyemba.
“Their standards of living are the same. They don’t have anything and they urgently need help,” Mrs Mnangagwa was quoted saying.
She appealed to Government ministries responsible for the welfare of people with water and sanitation, road rehabilitation to urgently assist as the situation was dire.
The First Lady also appealed to Government to help the San people get identity documents, something which could help them get jobs and access other opportunities elsewhere.
Apart from her support of the Doma and San communities, the First Lady has over a short period of time grown to become the face of the country’s vigorous cancer awareness campaign.
Her participation has wooed thousands of women to undergo cervical cancer screening in various healthcare institutions.
With cervical cancer being prevalent in Zimbabwe, the initiative could see many lives being saved.
Incidence of cervical cancer in the country is reported to be 35 per 100 000 women.
The First Lady has also been going around the country donating to orphanages, child-headed families and the elderly.
To all these people, and with the help of the Angel of Hope Foundation, life is never the same.
The children’s homes that received donations across the country so far include Chambuta, Chingele and Chiredzi Christian, Henry Murray, Ratidzo and Alpha Cottage, Leranzo, Copota School of the Blind in Zimuto, Ponesai Vanhu Children’s Home in Shamva, Hurungwe Children’s Home, Manhinga Orphanage and Mutoko Leprosy Centre to mention but just a few.
Her generosity was also extended to prisons where she has been donating foodstuffs to inmates. She is also passionate about women’s empowerment and has supported various initiatives to help women become self-reliant.
Angel of Hope Foundation, which was launched on February 17, 2018, was established to uplift the lives of disadvantaged children and vulnerable members of society.
The foundation aims to focus on access to health, combating diseases, as well as sustainability issues in line with Sustainable Development Goals on ending poverty and inequality.
Her unwavering commitment to the poor and the less privileged is cherished by many.
She is indeed making a huge difference in the lives of many.
I tip my hat in honour of the First Lady and I have no doubt that her charitable work will inspire many in generations to come.