Tendai Rupapa in UMZINGWANE
There are many cases of elderly people living in abject poverty and loneliness, which makes it necessary for society to embrace First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa’s efforts to restore safety nets for them.
One such case is that of 82-year-old Gogo Violet Ncube of Mawabeni Village here in Umzingwane.
Gogo Ncube lives alone after her husband, her only child and grandchild died many years ago, thereby leaving her to face life’s challenges alone.
When the First Lady visited Gogo Ncube yesterday, her homestead looked dilapidated and was crying out for attention, with the kitchen roof caved in.
Amai Mnangagwa’s visit rekindled Gogo Ncube’s hope for a better life.
The First Lady provided her a shoulder to lean on.
Amai Mnangagwa is on a countrywide mission to sow love and to ensure that traditional norms and values are restored, together with safety nets for the vulnerable and elderly.
She teamed up with local leaders, chiefs’ wives, women from various churches and members of the community to give Gogo Ncube’s homestead a facelift.
It was a hive of activity at the usually quite household.
With the assistance of Gogo Ncube’s neighbour, Mrs Clara Ndlovu, and other women, the First Lady repaired the damaged roof after Mrs Ndlovu had taught her how to thatch.
While the women were busy with that and other household chores, men — led by Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs Minister Abednico Ncube — were weeding the yard.
The First Lady joined other women in cleaning the huts.
She cleaned Gogo Ncube’s bedroom floor and polished it with cowdung.
The First Lady and her team then turned to the pots and pans to prepare lunch. They cooked sadza, chicken stew, pumpkin leaves and munyevhe, which Amai Mnangagwa dished out.
Appreciating the First Lady’s visit, Gogo Ncube said: “I live here alone and getting something to eat is a struggle. I can no longer farm because I no longer have the strength. The visit by our First Lady has given me hope. She has remembered me, a poor old widow.”
A member of Full Gospel Church, Gogo Ncube arrived in Mawabeni Village in 1986 after the death of her husband, child and grandchild.
She relies on neighbours for assistance.
However, they too cannot provide much help since they have their own challenges.
Mrs Rhoda Mhlanga, a neighbour, said: “Everyday when I wake up, I come to her house to check on her and fetch water for her. If I have food in the house, I share with her because she lives alone.”
Another neighbour, Mr Sikhalosethu Siphambili (29), said he was doing the best he could to assist.
He is son to another neighbour, Mrs Sikhonzokuhle Tshuma.
“When we were growing up in this village, we would see our mother helping her every day, giving her food and doing household chores for her,” he said.
“After getting a job, I vowed to continue looking after Gogo. I took over from my mother and made sure she gets her tablets every month; she has a heart problem. We are just helping her,” he said.
Mr Siphambili said he sought to register Gogo on insurance policies, including a funeral policy, but funeral service providers were reluctant due to her advanced years.
The Angel of Hope Foundation patron donated an assortment of foodstuffs, toiletries and blankets to Gogo Ncube.
She then proceeded to several other homesteads where she also interacted with the elderly.
Amai Mnangagwa urged chiefs’ wives, churches, youths and the rest of the communities to have the interests of the elderly at heart.
She urged them to carry the programme forward and continue visiting the elderly and the vulnerable.
She commended Gogo Ncube’s neighbours for assisting her.
“What made me happy is that neighbours are doing their best in assisting Gogo Ncube. May God bless them for these good deeds. People should love one another. As Zimbabweans, we are one family,” she said.
She bemoaned the collapse of the extended family unit, which she aims to revive.
Amai Mnangagwa said she was there to serve all citizens regardless of their political or religious persuasions.
She took time to teach newly-weds on how to live and relate with their in-laws in a loving way. She then invited the elderly women who were present to narrate how they were living with their daughters-in-law, and vice versa.
Minister Ncube was full of praise for the First Lady.
“The First Lady is leading by example in honouring and showing love to our elders. We often take the elderly in our midst for granted but Amai is taking the lead. Her hand is reaching to all the corners of the country. I encourage everyone to take a leaf from our First Lady who has gone a step further and awakened us,” said Minister Ncube.
Through her Foundation, the First Lady distributed foodstuffs and blankets to elderly people in Mawabeni as well as baby preparation kits to expecting mothers.