Harare — The First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe yesterday urged privileged Zimbabweans to look after orphans because they needed all the help they can get from people in their communities.
Addressing spouses of Ministers at Amitofo Care Centre in Mazowe yesterday, Amai Mugabe challenged them to come up with similar projects that would help underprivileged members of the society.
"There are many HIV and Aids orphans in Zimbabwe some who end up as street children, that need to be looked after by some of us who have been fortunate in life.
"I know many of us who look after orphans in our homes, but there are many who are not our relatives who need our support. The important issue is not the number of children we look after but the good things we do for the underprivileged in our societies," she said.
Amai Mugabe said she came up with the idea of constructing the children's village in 1997.
The first phase is expected to be completed by December this year and would cater for 300 children.
The First Lady said she had approached various partners who are helping her to realise the goal.
"I applied for a farm during the land reform exercise and while many bad things have been said in the media, we at the farm are not only contributing to the national food reserves but we have set aside a part of the land for a children's home project," she said.
Amitofo Care Centre, which was established in 2006, will consist of 30 five bed-roomed houses, which would accommodate 20 children each under the care of two foster parents.
The centre to take up more than 48 hectares on completion will have a children's home, nursery, primary and secondary schools, vocational training centre, hospital, shopping centre, restaurant and guest chalets.
Amai Mugabe, who turned 43 yesterday, said she would not celebrate her birthday but would rather commemorate her philanthropic achievements.
"Our goal is to create a first class standard self-sustaining children's village that meets the physical, mental and social requirements of the children. The primary school is expected to cater for 900 children including some from the surrounding farms while the hospital will also help the Mazowe community, which does not have a health institution," she said.
The First Lady paid tribute to Chinese Ambassador Mr Yuan Nansheng who pledged to fund construction of the primary school and hospital at the centre and the Taiwanese representatives who are working at the centre.
Amai Mugabe said the project would sustain itself through agricultural production and business entities to be built at the centre.
"The vocational training centre would also help in the training of the children who are expected to be employed in the hotels, restaurant, business centre and shops," she said.
The First Lady said that there were plans to build a university at the centre with project plans already being drafted while staff would be accommodated in garden and duplex flats to be built at the centre.
Present at the reception was Zimbabwe Tourism Authority's Ambassador to Italy Mrs Machelina Gabrie Sanquest of Sun Travel who donated 1 500 euro towards the project.
The Ministers' spouses paid tribute to Amai Mugabe for the exceptional zeal to assist orphans in Zimbabwe saying they had been inspired by her ideas and would work to start similar projects in their home areas.