“GIVE a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
The above statement appropriately captures the works being done by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and her Angel of Hope Foundation, in bringing change in the lives of many women across the political and social divide.
Women who are exhibiting at the ongoing Zimbabwe Agricultural Show in Harare bear testimony to the benefits society is accruing from the First Lady’s interventions through various projects.
“We are a group of 13 women who formed a cooperative called New Ideas,” said a member Mrs Rejoice Maketo. “We were encouraged when we heard Amai saying for women to succeed, they should use their hands and work hard. Amai Mnangagwa gave us the opportunity to make our own products after she had trained several women through her foundation. She has been going around the country telling women that it is possible to earn a living through self-help projects.”
Mrs Maketo said she was grateful for the First Lady’s interventions, which made her and members of the group and other women countrywide learn about the Women’s Bank, which assists women with finances in addition to expert advice on cash management and how to run their business ventures. She said they had embraced the bank and were willing to work with it for the success of their programmes.
“The loan we are going to get from the Women’s Bank will enable us to continue with our works,” said Mrs Maketo. “I wish to thank the First Lady because yesterday (Thursday) she toured our stands, viewing our exhibitions.
“She was happy with the encouragement she gave us and the products we produced that include detergents, petroleum jelly, lotions, juices and peanut butter, among other products. She is encouraging every woman and I urge those who are at home doing nothing to come on board.
“The First Lady is encouraging us to forge ahead as women with the aim of empowering the womenfolk. As New Ideas, we followed her wise counsel and did as she had advised. We are fulfilling Amai’s vision to uplift women.”
Mrs Caroline Masvingise-Godzongere of Picmost Collection, which specialises in macrame products, shared a similar tale and expressed gratitude to Amai Mnangagwa.
“I wish to thank the First Lady for the programmes she is rolling out for women countrywide,” she said. “She is encouraging every woman to use her hands whether or not one is formally employed. There are some people who work, but they do not get enough, so if they use their hands they can improve their income. I make cram hand products which do not require machinery. I make beads, bed runners and table mats, cushion covers, travelling bags and decorating bottles, among others. I would like to express my gratitude.”
Mrs Masvingise-Godzongere said her wish was to make other young women see the light and shun prostitution which affected their health and was undignified.
She described the First Lady’s empowerment programmes as beneficial.
“I see this programme as beneficial because I am among those who struggled to get shelter, food, clothing,” she said. “Things were generally not going on well for me. But ever since I started using my hands, I can now afford a decent living and sending my children to school. Were it not for Covid-19, I was among those who had been selected to attend the Dubai 2020 which is something new for me to fly out of the country. I did not have opportunities to board planes, but because of using my hands, I expect to visit all countries representing Zimbabwe and the womenfolk.”
So charmed was Mrs Masvingise-Godzongere that she said she was now ploughing back into the community through teaching other women about the importance of using their hands.