It was a dream come true for more than 50 young women from disadvantaged backgrounds who received certificates yesterday after undergoing a special training programme in tourism and hospitality, courtesy of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa.
The skills they received will empower and capacitate them to be self-reliant.
Amai Mnangagwa facilitated the skills mentorship programme through her charity organisation, Angel of Hope Foundation, whose main focus is to uplift lives of disadvantaged children and other vulnerable members of society.
For the success of the programme, Angel of Hope Foundation partnered with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and National Parks.
The mentorship programme involved theoretical training in various companies that included ZimParks, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), Wild Travel Africa, Rainbow Towers and Holiday Inn, where the young women were exposed to learning in the hospitality industry.
The young women, who were drawn from Harare, Bulawayo, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West provinces, could not hide their joy after they received their certificates from the First Lady, who was accompanied by Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira and Women Affairs, Gender, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni.
Addressing the graduates at State House, Amai Mnangagwa said the initiative was in line with her foundation's objective of empowering girls and women from marginalised communities and investing in their development.
"The mentorship programme is aimed at empowering young women by exposing them to an opportunity they otherwise would not have had," she said.
"The mentees were taught the methods and procedures that are fundamental in the successful running of the hospitality industry.
"They also participated in a hospitality and tourism solutions dialogue hosted by Africa Works Institute which aimed at equipping them with skills that would aid in securing job opportunities in different sectors.
"This entire mentorship programme equipped the young women with a set of transferable skills and some notable experience that make them employable for the future jobs."
The First Lady urged the graduates to continue improving themselves academically to match the industry trends.
She said she had plans to expand the mentorship programmes to include other industries such as industry and commerce, mining and agriculture.
"I am appealing to companies that are involved in these trades to allow us to mentor the vulnerable young women in their workplace," said the First Lady.
"Please think of these ladies when you have openings in your organisations as our ultimate goal is that they find jobs or start their own businesses."
Amai Mnangagwa thanked organisations that took part in training and mentoring the young women during the programme, adding that they helped build their self-confidence, broadened their horizons and exposed them to new experiences.
Among the graduands were orphans from children's homes who narrated their ordeals and thanked Amai Mnangagwa for the new lease of life.
Buhle Moduma (19) said her mother abandoned her when she was two months old and since then she has been staying at Khayelihle Children's Home.
"I am greatly humbled and wish to express my gratitude to Amai for this opportunity. She has given us hope and indeed she is an Angel of Hope," she said.
"I passed my Ordinary Level and with this certificate I am going to start hunting for a job. My wish is to further my studies. If I get a job, I will use my salary to look for accommodation because now that I am over 18 years, I am supposed to leave the home and make room for others."
Nyasha Moyo (20) said she lived on the streets of Bulawayo for a long time following the death of her mother when she was eight years old.
She said the abuse she endured at the hands of her father and stepmother forced her to flee home in Gweru and she ended up on the streets of Bulawayo before she was taken to a home by a Good Samaritan.
"With this mentorship programme, my future is now bright," she said. "If it was not for Angel of Hope who gave me this opportunity, I would not be where I am today.
"I am also supposed to leave the home and my prayer now is to find a job so that I can fend for myself."
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief operating officer Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) director-general Mr Fulton Mangwanya and acting general manager Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe Mrs Margaret Mantiziba were some of those who gave an overview of the training at the ceremony.