First Lady launches model green park for children . . . conservation efforts to curb social vices

ENVIRONMENT patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa

ENVIRONMENT patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday launched a model children’s green park in Glen Norah in a development that will provide a serene place to relax, study and interact while connecting with nature.

The initiative is aimed at promoting environmental conservation while encouraging children to desist from engaging in social vices like drug abuse.

Children will also learn how nature and humans depend on each other and coexist while enjoying sporting activities in a pitch to be developed in the park.

The park also improves the area’s aesthetic value and inculcates in learners values, attitudes, skills and behaviour consistent with sustainable development.

Such parks will be replicated in all provinces throughout the country to unlock immense benefits of learners and communities.

Schoolchildren carry trees during the launch of a model children’s green park by the country’s Environmental patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Glen Norah, Harare yesterday.

This is not the First time the First Lady has been involved with revamping recreational parks for the benefit of children after her Angel of Hope Foundation in 2019 constructed and handed over an amusement park to the Mbare community in Harare.

Yesterday’s launch of the children’s park comes at a time when most recreational facilities have been neglected, resulting in people dumping garbage at idle facilities.

The colourful launch brought together Government officials,  champions of the environment, schoolchildren, community members, city council officials. 

Led by the First Lady, the event started with a clean-up around the area and nearby communities before they cleaned the park and planted trees and flowers thus, beautifying it.

In her address, the First Lady, who is extensively involved in tree planting among many other environmental management programmes, spoke about the importance of conservation and warned children against drug abuse in her interactive session with them.

“It is a great honour for me to address you today where we are launching the Glen Norah Children’s Park. The establishment of this park is well in line with the Government programme of beautification of cities and towns through urban reforestation which seeks to increase access to green spaces by urban dwellers and promote cleanliness,” she said.

Green spaces, the First Lady said, have a range of positive effects on human, physical and mental well-being. 

“Further, these spaces can provide foreign habitat for species, improve habitat connectivity, provide ecosystem services and help mediate extreme events such as flooding and heat waves. We envisage this park to be a model green park to be replicated on other cities and towns so as to improve their aesthetic value, mediate pollution, flooding and providing a serene environment for mental well-being of urban dwellers. 

Environmental patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa leads schoolchildren in planting trees as she launched a model children’s green park in Glen Norah, Harare yesterday.

“The afforestation of this park will result in increase of various species of animals, birds and plants. This will provide children an opportunity to interact and connect with nature and learn how nature and humans depend on each other and can coexist. Children’s understanding of nature will also be facilitated through the development of a nature museum and a library. Children are tomorrow’s leaders hence the need to provide them an opportunity and enabling environment for them to inculcate values, attitudes, skills and behaviour consistent with sustainable development.

“I plead with all children to take the opportunity of spending your free time on this leisure park and many more that the Government is building up. Green spaces improve your health, mental wellness and bond with nature. I also encourage you to desist from the use of drugs which are destroying the lives of many children in our country. I therefore encourage that the young girls and boys be actively involved in climate sensitive projects such as greening the spaces and theatre in the park project with an environmental eye. This helps in maintaining and preserving the flora of tomorrow in Zimbabwe’s biodiversity economy. I encourage each and everyone of you to dwell on the motto: No drugs and dangerous substances,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa hammered on the importance of sound environmental management practices, including the planting of trees.

“Together if we plant trees we stand healthy and beautify our safe havens. The Glen Norah community and the city of Harare at large, this is your park which you should be proud of. I encourage you to protect it jealously as this is your treasure and of generations to come. I therefore emphasise the need to build a new generation of responsible citizens through active children’s civic engagement in environmental management as evidenced by the tree planting initiatives and beautification of the ground spaces as has been done here so that we turn them into green, eye-catching and transformative spaces that our children are proud of. 

“This leads to the raising of a new generation of people who are environmentally friendly. Based on my own work in environmental management, I am active in reforestation as it supports local cooling, storm water absorption and health benefits of urban trees for local residents however the potential for urban trees to appreciably mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution over a wide array of sites and environmental conditions is limited. We do not involve our children in the process. Ladies and gentlemen I would like to thank all the children who have been taking up tree planting initiatives in their schools and homes throughout the country. This is an inspiration to every Zimbabwean to actively engage in environmental protection initiatives. I would also like to extend my gratitude to all organisations that are contributing to the development of this great space and city beautification initiative,” she said. 

Schoolchildren plant trees during the launch of a model children’s green park by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Glen Norah, Harare yesterday.

Dr Mnangagwa, who has a passion for the welfare of children, warned about the effects of drugs.

“My children, drugs have destroyed your age group. I heard when people take mutoriro they ‘stick’. What does this mean kusticker uye munhu anosticker kana amwa kana kusvuta chii?”

In response, the mother of the nation was told by the children.“They stick after taking dombo, guka or mutoriro.”

The first Lady drew laughter when she sought to be shown the pose of a sloshed person and the children lined up to demonstrate what they saw in people who are into drugs.

“As parents we are disturbed by children who take drugs and this should come to an end in Zimbabwe. It has killed and destroyed children. Even in class nothing productive is achieved. People in some countries are taking the bones of deceased people to use as drugs. Stay away from drugs my children,” she said.

How do you want this park to be protected,” she asked and the children responded in a variety of ways.

Anenyasha Masendo spoke about the need for fruit trees.

“We want fruit trees in the park that we will come to eat from time to time. It’s everyone’s responsibility to look after this park,” she said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Tinaye Bhere.

Environmental patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hugs environmental enthusiast Mirabelle Gavi while Minister of State and Devolution for Harare Senator Charles Tawengwa looks on during the launch of a model children’s green park in Glen Norah, Harare yesterday.

“We want a library so that we can come and read while seated under the tree shade.

“we want the park to be beautiful so that we can host functions like weddings here,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa called for the protection of the park and not to use it as a place for bad dealings.

“Protect this place and we say no to those who come for romantic encounters while feigning to be studying as this results in unwanted pregnancies leading to school dropouts. Please do not start fires in this park. We shall establish a soccer pitch and periodically come for sporting activities. I once lived here in Glen Norah and it was a beautiful place during our time when we coexisted with birds in the shade and we yearn for a return to those times. This place will take away our children from mischief. My children, I also want you to enjoy healthy food and we shall have cooking competitions here,” she said to applaud.

Environmental patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hugs environmental enthusiast Catherine Chitengu during the launch of a model children’s green park in Glen Norah, Harare yesterday.

The mother of the nation told the children about her 575 toll free line and urged them to get in touch in the event that they witness sinister things taking place or if they are being abused.

Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Charles Tawengwa paid tribute to the First Lady for her environmental management programmes.

“On behalf of Harare Metropolitan Province I would like to welcome your excellency the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa. Thank you Amai for gracing this occasion. Your unwavering support to education and assistance to any disadvantaged people in the society has seen the changing lives of these groups. Your Excellency, this park is envisaged to be a model park which promotes the conservation of trees and maintenance of environmental cleanliness. This is a positive development as it enhances the mental wellbeing of communities through the aesthetic value of the park including biodiversity and addresses a number of environmental challenges such as pollution and flooding amongst others. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to express my deep appreciation to Her Excellency for the promotion of the beautification of cities programme as the country’s environmental patron,” he said.

Environmental patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa talks to Harare Mayor Clr Jacob Mafume during the launch of a model children’s green park in Glen Norah, Harare yesterday.

Minister Tawengwa enjoined children to take full advantage of the park in their learning and recreation.

“We hope that children in the surrounding communities will fully utilize this park for education and recreation. Your excellency, the achievement of vision 2030 through the National Development Strategy 1 aims to leave no one and no place behind in the sustainable development and use of our environment. The youths and children need their own comfort zone and places to relax in as they enjoy the wonders of nature bestowed upon them. Allow me at this juncture to also extend my deep gratitude to 13-year-old Ellyanne Wanjiku Chlystun from Kenya who was supposed to be amongst us today. She is an advocate of climate, environment and natural resources management. Her actions and contributions have inspired some of the youths who have had the opportunity to interact with her. I would like to appreciate the support from Government, community-based organisations, businesspeople, the civil societies for making this programme a success. We are grateful and encourage these public private partnerships which demonstrate togetherness that the youth and children should emulate. 

Harare Mayor Councilor Jacob Mafume was also thankful.

Schoolchildren respond to questions from Environmental patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa during an interactive session in Glen Norah, Harare yesterday.

“I am thankful for the programme that has been done. We want to thank the First Lady who has come with the programme of a children’s park. This is a great story. I heard you saying out your wishes and we shall do so at this park. We also thank the First Lady  for involving schoolchildren in conservation matters,” he said.

Catherine Chitengu from Highfield High One, who is into conservation, paid glowing tribute to the First Lady.

Schoolchildren raise their hands to respond to questions during an interactive session with Environmental patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa during the launch of a model children’s green park in Glen Norah yesterday.

“I want to give special recognition of our mother, the First Lady, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Amai, we love you so much. For me everything is about the environment and it is my greatest pleasure to stand in front of you to educate you about the environment. 

“The environment is so desirous and the environment is crying out for you to protect it. Before I go further let me introduce myself. 

I am an environmental scientist. I am an advocate for the environment. I am the environment. I determine the environment and it is important to protect the environment. So what you do not protect eventually protests so the reason why the environment is protesting is because we are not protecting it. 

A boy writes on his hand the 575 National Gender Based Violence tollfree number as it was announced by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa during an interactive session with school children. The boy did not have a paper and to avoid forgetting the number he wrote on his hand. — Pictures: John Manzongo.

“Now let me remind you of the mantra nyika inovakwa nevene vayo, nyika inochengetwa nevene vayo, nyika inotsvairwa nevene vayo, nyika inogadzirwa nevene vayo so its up to you my brother, its up to you my sister to take care of the environment. Let this be an awakening call for you my brother that you have a responsibility, my sister, that is to take care of the environment,” she said.


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