Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
FIRST LADY Auxillia Mnangagwa, who is the Angel of Hope Foundation patron, yesterday handed over a consignment of face masks to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, as she presses ahead with efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus in schools.
The First Lady, as the country’s health ambassador, has been leading from the front in disseminating information on how to prevent the pandemic throughout the country’s provinces.
She has also mobilised personal protective equipment and sanitisers for both urban and rural communities.
Presenting the masks, the First Lady, who is also the vice president of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), said the donation from Jack Ma Foundation was given to all First Ladies who are members of OAFLAD and she was among the recipients.
“This donation was offered by the Jack Ma Foundation and was distributed through the World Food Programme (WFP),” she said.
“With us today is Mr Neils Balzer, the WFP representative and his delegation whom we invited to witness the handing over as Angel of Hope Foundation to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.”
Amai Mnangagwa said the Angel of Hope Foundation’s core mandate was threefold, to support vulnerable communities in accessing health products and services to enable them to lead healthy lives.
The foundation also seeks to support disadvantaged women and youths gain resources needed to be income-secure and earn a dignified life and respond to communities by addressing both economic and social vulnerabilities to enable them cope with economic demands in life.
“This donation comes at a time when the world is fighting the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic whilst schoolchildren in Zimbabwe have since resumed their lessons,” said the First Lady.
“We have also realised that there is a spike in new infections and preventive measures are now needed more than before.
“I have thought of passing on the donation to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. To ease the shortage of face masks, I have also started training women to make some reusable face masks which will also spread to the metropolitan provinces as they are equally hit by the shortage of personal protective clothing.”
The First Lady thanked the Jack Ma Foundation and the WFP which helped deliver the gift to her doorstep and said the donation will assist in combating the spread of Covid-19 countrywide.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Ambassador Cain Mathema, thanked the First Lady for the consignment, saying the masks would be distributed equally to the country’s rural provinces.
He said production of face masks had not been at full capacity due to the shortage of raw materials, hence the donation was timely.
In compliance with the World Health Organisation guidelines, Zimbabwe has put in place several measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including the closing of schools.
“All schools were closed on March 24, 2020 and subsequently reopened in three phases,” said Ambassador Mathema.
“The reopening of schools began on September 28 with final examination classes, followed by the next phase starting on October 26 for classes that will sit for final examinations in 2021.
“The final phase which brought back all the remaining classes began on November 9, 2020.”
Ambassador Mathema said the Covid-19 phenomenon had revealed the importance of disaster preparedness and the need to plan for different scenarios to avoid the disruption of teaching and learning.
He said his ministry had come up with the schools Covid-19 response programme which encouraged schools to find innovative ways to contribute towards the national plan strategy against the global pandemic.
“This resulted in a number of schools which had the human resources, equipment and raw materials taking up the opportunity to manufacture face masks and sanitisers, much of which met the requirements of the Standards Association,” he said.
“However, the production of face masks has not been at full capacity due to the shortage of raw materials, while the manufacture of sanitisers has been left to higher and tertiary institutions.
“This pandemic has also had the effect of strengthening the collaboration between the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and that of Health and Child Care in line with the Zimbabwe School Health Policy.
“Using the Government-approved Standard Operating Procedures, it has been possible to manage the few incidences of Covid-19 outbreaks in our schools, with the support of the Ministry of Health and Child Care. Besides the MOHCC, other ministries have assisted my ministry in several different ways.”
Ambassador Mathema said his ministry’s core business of teaching and learning had been seriously affected by restrictive measures that Government had to introduce to prevent the loss of life due to Covid-19.
His ministry, he said, had accelerated the reintroduction of radio lessons and widened access to e-learning platforms.
For rural and hard to reach areas, the ministry used printed materials that had the same content as radio lessons.
The First Lady has been active in ensuring information on Covid-19 reached all provinces and has mobilised personal protective equipment, sanitisers and equipment for use by the country’s health personnel and communities.
WFP country director Ms Francesca Erdelmann said the provision of PPE and safe water for schools was important.
“WFP is proud to be in this important work and we will continue to mobilise resources to advance and expand this fundamental work,” she said in a speech read on her behalf by deputy country director Mr Balzer.
Meanwhile, touched by the work being done by the First Lady in easing the plight of the underprivileged, St John Apostolic Church of the Whole World yesterday donated wheelchairs, adult walkers, an assortment of clothes, shoes and blankets among other things to the Angel of Hope Foundation for onward distribution to the needy.
The goods were mobilised from the church’s England women fellowship branch.
Receiving the donation, the First Lady paid tribute to religious organisations and their concern for the welfare of the underprivileged.
“I want to appreciate that Zimbabwe is a country of worshippers,” she said.
“Its people are God-loving. We see these churches coming together to praise our creator, therefore, we want to thank God for the gift of life he gave us.
“We have many challenges that we come across as a nation like Cyclone Idai recently, poor rainfall and diseases, but we are pulling through because God is answering prayers from various churches in our country.
“I want to thank madzimai aya nekutambanudza maoko. The work we do as women is out of genuine love of what we do and not because we want to be recognised. It comes right from our hearts.
“Whatever we would have done as women, we would have helped one or two people. Even if you help one person, unotendwa nedenga. I want to thank you heartily that through those women in England, we will put smiles on the faces of those in need.
“The women heard my cries and came up with these donations. When another woman cries, let’s cry with them, patambudzika mumwe mudzimai, ngativei naye pamwechete tichibatsirana. Kupa kwamaita muzuva ranhasi hazvireve kuti munowana zvakawandisa asi maona zvakakodzera kupawo vanoshaya. Mandiratidza rudo, naizvozvo zvese zvatinoita ngatitungamidzei Mwari pamberi.”
Earlier in a speech read on her behalf by Angel of Hope Foundation’s chairperson Mrs Molly Dingani, the First Lady said the donation would help alleviate the suffering of some of the country’s underprivileged citizens.
“Angel of Hope Foundation response to communities by addressing various social and economic issues affecting the marginalised communities,” she said. “This kind gesture is greatly appreciated as the demand for the presence of the Angel of Hope Foundation is increasing nationwide.
“I would want to encourage the church to continue with the good work. Let us do what we can, wherever we are as Zimbabweans to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters.”
Representing the church, Mr Charles Maunga, said St John Apostolic Church of the Whole World had seen the outstanding charity work of the First Lady through Angel of Hope Foundation and sourced an assortment of goods for onward distribution to the needy.
“Your Excellency, this service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God,” he said.
“Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you, their hearts will go out to you because of the surpassing grace God has given you.”
Mr Maunga made reference to Bible verses; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 and Hebrews 13:16, which talk about the importance of helping out those in need.