Binga — RURAL communities remain at the core of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa's empowerment programmes and yesterday she took her nationwide coronavirus awareness campaign to Binga as she leads the fight against the pandemic which has killed thousands globally.
Amai Mnangagwa is the country's Health Ambassador, hence her interventions and efforts to mobilise resources through her Angel of Hope Foundation to prevent Covid-19.
Her visit here coincided with reports that at least 15 people who had escaped from a quarantine facility in Lupane were arrested and returned to confinement with the assistance of villagers and community leaders.
This proves that the First Lady's call for communities not to harbour escapees to prevent the spread of coronavirus is bearing fruit.
In her awareness message across the country, Amai Mnangagwa has urged rural communities to be vigilant and avoid harbouring escapees.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo, confirmed the development saying: "In Matabeleland North, at Lupane quarantine centre, 15 returnees escaped. Villagers, chiefs and headmen from Binga worked closely with the police to identify the people who have since been taken back to the quarantine centre.
"We are so happy with what the First Lady is teaching people in rural communities. She is reinforcing the message on Covid-19 and those who are here today will take the message back to their villages not to harbour escapees or border jumpers.
"In all her programmes and projects, our mother is not being selective. She is visiting every corner of the country."
Zimbabwe, which is under lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, has in recent weeks witnessed a surge in Covid-19 positive cases owing to people coming from affected countries.
In her message to the elderly in Binga, the First Lady emphasised the need for communities to work hand-in-glove with chiefs and headmen as well as health authorities to ensure quarantine measures were not violated.
"As mothers, when we see our child whom we have not been staying with for a long time and coming from abroad, we sometimes fail to ask important questions like whether or not the child has been tested for Covid-19. Despite that motherly bond, let us follow the dictates of the law so as to prevent the spread of the virus.
"In this time of Covid-19, this disease is not selective. It does not consider which church you go to or who your headman is. It is just affecting everyone hence it is everyone's responsibility to play a part in the fight against it," she said.
Amai Mnangagwa kept her session interactive and allowed members of the community to ask questions and share ideas on what they knew about coronavirus.
The Angel of Hope patron, who donated foodstuffs, blankets and home-made face masks to the elderly and personal protective equipment, sanitisers, disinfectants and knapsack sprayers to Binga Hospital, took her audience through discussions on safe mask use and disposal.
"These masks must be handled with care. The ones that are reusable must be washed and ironed, while the other ones must be disposed of in a hygienic manner. We are encouraged to place them in litter bins that have lids.
"But I favour burning them so that young children will not play around with them and be contaminated by diseases," she said.
The First Lady spoke exhaustively on the pandemic and was satisfied her audience grasped her messages through the questions they posed. The villagers were thankful for the eye-opening sessions.
Amai Mnangagwa was at Binga District Hospital before she proceeded to Siabuzuba Clinic where she held similar interactive sessions.
Her programmes are non-partisan.
Sekuru Milisa Muleya from Kadyanyama Village said he was awestruck by the First Lady's humility and passion for the welfare of others, especially the vulnerable.
"She is doing a great job. This shows she cares for every citizen. She is a true mother of the nation and we want to thank her for her teachings as we have learnt a lot today. This will save lives and ensure a nation keeps going forward," he said.
Gogo Filda Khumalo weighed in and thanked the First Lady for the foodstuffs, the teachings and the visit.
"This place has been remembered by God. The fact that she has come to teach us, feed us and assess our needs means we are special to her. I thank the First Lady for her good heart. God bless her," she said.
The First Lady's visit here comes after she has toured eight other provinces, including the San community in Matabeleland South as she covers the length and breadth of the country teaching people about coronavirus and how best they can protect themselves.
On Monday, in Makhulela, Thwayithwayi Village, she handed over a modern fully-furnished hut and toilets she constructed through her foundation to the village head of the San community where she has also introduced a thriving nutritional garden, an orchard and a poultry project, among other several projects which the community had never embarked on.
She is transforming the people from being hunters and gatherers into farmers.
The First Lady, who is passionate about the development of marginalised communities, has brought massive development to the Doma people in Kanyemba where she has initiated income-generating projects, facilitated the construction of schools and also built a waiting shelter for expecting mothers there.
Amai Mnangagwa, who is also a champion for women empowerment, is not a newcomer to Binga.
She has previously worked with ZUBO Trust, an organisation for women based here and are involved in economic empowerment projects to improve the lives of families and contribute to the country's macro-economic development.
Last year, she officially opened the ZUBO Women's Centre where most women from the area have transformed themselves and their communities through self-help projects such as jatropha soap production.
The jatropha has a ready market in Europe, particularly in Germany.
Through her foundation, a pilot goat-rearing project and reusable pad sewing initiative were introduced in Matabeleland North and the First Lady will soon launch them.
She has also been assisting children's and old people's homes in Binga and in 2018 she gave over 1 000 orphans and elderly people a Christmas treat when she hosted a party for them at Sunrise Children's home.
Minister Moyo thanked Amai Mnangagwa for always remembering his province adding that it continued to benefit from her programmes and projects thereby improving people's lives.