First Lady’s empowerment programme pays off for Mash West widows

Angel of Hope Foundation patron and founder First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over food hampers during her interface with widows and other people in Sanyati. – Pictures: John Manzongo

WIDOWS from Mashonaland West Province, who are members of the newly formed First Lady’s Widows Association, are grateful to their Patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for initiating income generating projects for them.

The women are now running successful businesses in sewing, baking, detergents and petroleum jelly making, among other projects, having been given starter packs by the mother of the nation when she launched the association.

The association, which is rolling out an array of short courses and projects to empower the widows, will cascade to all the provinces.

It is also a holistic package comprising committees set up to ensure no one and no place is left behind as she works with the widows in life-transforming initiatives from ward to district and provincial levels.

The women said they can now sustain themselves and their children in a dignified manner.

Other projects being rolled out under the association and its partners include hairdressing, dress-making, mushroom production, floor polish making, candle making, project management and business management.

So far, over 2 000 widows drawn from the province have been trained through the association and its partners.

Some of them from Sanyati District last week showcased their products when the First Lady visited their area.

They are working in groups.

During her interface with them at Pachway grounds in Sanyati, Amai Mnangagwa as patron of the Association availed more support for more widows from Zvimba, Mhondoro-Ngezi, Hurungwe, Chegutu and Kariba districts to kick-start and supplement their projects.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa looks at the various types of dresses, handbags and other items designed by women who are part of her First Lady’s Widows Association. Looking on is Minister of State and Devolution for Mashonaland West Marian Chombo

Amai Mnangagwa was extremely happy to see the fruits of her hard work.

Dr Mnangagwa, who has a passion for the upliftment of women and girls, said it was critical for widows to be disciplined, well-behaved and hard-working women who use their hands to earn a living while showing their children the right path.

Gone are the days, the First Lady said, when widows were infamous for wrong reasons like snatching other people’s husbands and sponging on other people because of poverty caused by the death of a breadwinner.

Emphasising the critical role mothers play as care givers, protectors, and role models to their children, the First Lady implored women to instil a culture of hard work in children and raise them in a dignified manner.

“These are my girls and I want to walk and work with them. They should not be lonely because they were robbed by death, instead they should keep themselves busy by engaging in projects. They should not snatch other people’s husbands because they lost theirs and they should not let children sponge on neighbours because their spouses are no more.

“We do not want situations where widows are reduced to beggars who ask even for salt because they were robbed by death. You should not just clap your hands after receiving donations from other people. I want they to use those hands to work,” she said.

The mother of the nation spoke on the need for widows to have self-confidence and aim for the stars.

“You have your own meaningful life to lead and as a widow you are a mother, father and aunt to your children. You need to raise your children on the correct path as they follow the teachings that you give them.

“This is only possible if you as a mother are disciplined and well-behaved. It will be embarrassing to see you dressed in an undignified manner. Be content with what you have. Work hard and uplift yourselves isn’t it so madzimai? We do not want women who hop from one relationship to the other. This embarrasses us as women. We must be respected as mothers,” she said.

Angel of Hope Foundation patron and founder First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over food hampers during her interface with widows and other people in Sanyati. – Pictures: John Manzongo

This came as Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Marian Chombo praised the First Lady for her well-meaning programmes that have captured the imagination of the world.

“We thank you verily for holding such empowerment programmes. Amai, we are proud of you for taking it upon yourself to see that your children get a good life. You are encouraging and empowering a lot of people and not just widows. Orphans are also benefiting. Tinokutendai Amai,” she said.

Mrs Tambudzai Sibanda from Sanyati District said she was lost for words because of the First Lady’s love.

“The First Lady’s Widows Association is helping us greatly. Our mother gave us starter packs for detergent-making and petroleum jelly-making and we are working hard selling to members of our community.

“In terms of sewing we are making uniforms and our children are going to school presentable and we sell the rest. Through the First Lady we received training in many projects including baking and she gave us certificates.

“We are now being invited to weddings and other forums to bake cakes and do catering, all because of Amai.

“We are living well as widows and we have nothing to cry about anymore.

“Our mother did wonders for us because a widow was someone who was looked down upon but this has changed and we are now respected. I thank the First Lady for remembering us, she empowered us and placed us high up there.”

“I thank her unreservedly for uplifting widows. We formed committees from the district to ward level and came up with clusters to ensure no widow is left behind according to Amai’s vision,” she said.

Another widow echoed similar sentiments.

“When I lost my husband 10 years ago, I felt the world had collapsed. I never knew our mother had a great plan for us as widows and today I am able to put food on the table for my children because of the detergent-making project I am doing courtesy of the First Lady,” she said with a broad smile.

Yet another one could not contain her joy as she sang and danced in appreciation of the First Lady’s intervention.

“Amai Mnangagwa has been a true revelation in my life. When I thought things had gone haywire, she came with a sewing project for me to do so that I can put food on the table for the children. I really appreciate the love our mother has shown me and other women in a similar predicament as mine,” she said.

The women received an assortment of groceries from the mother of the nation.


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