ZHOMBE villagers had a Mother's Day to remember courtesy of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa who visited the largely farming and mining area with her Nhanga/Gota/Ixiba programme to tackle rising cases of juvenile delinquency, alcohol and drug abuse.
So befitting was the First Lady's visit as it dovetailed with the wishes of every mother to raise morally upright children who can be responsible citizens in the future.
In separate interviews on the sidelines of the programme, children, the elderly and chiefs said the First Lady's intervention could not have come at any better time as children had become wayward and were walking in the nude because of bad dressing.
One of the participants, Thandolwenkosi Sibanda (16) said she supported the programme which sought to address most challenges affecting youths. "We have been confronted by a very good programme which taught us our values and traditional way of life. We learnt a lot of things which we did not know. The First Lady and other elderly women also taught us how to do household chores some of which were not able to do before their intervention. This programme comes at a time when children of my age were now smoking cigarettes and drinking beer and they were abandoning school. Girls are being impregnated at tender ages. Using the knowledge I gathered here, I will educate others to stay away from mischief since I am now an ambassador," she said.
Hillary Mapfumo (16) who took part in the gota lessons showered praises on the First Lady for dedicating her time on mother's day to counselling youths.
"I am thankful for this programme because our peers are abandoning school to drink beer at tender ages. Girls too are being impregnated. We hope after these teachings youths will be back on the right path," he said with optimism.
A villager, Mrs Catherine Mugwagwa, said what made the First Lady's programme more meaningful was that it was held on Mother's Day to show the pain in her heart over the way children were ruining themselves with drugs.
"We are overjoyed on this day Mother's Day when we are putting our heads together as elders led by our First Lady teaching our children the right paths to follow in life. Our girls and boys are now naughty hence we were finding it difficult to discipline them. Both boys and girls are now disrespectful and no longer greet elders. They refuse to be sent on errands, something we never did as we grew up," she said.
The wife to Chief Ntabeni, Mrs Sandra Ntabeni, described the First Lady's programme as timely and beneficial to the nation. "We are so grateful for this great programme we never expected. Even now we are lost for words. The First Lady brought a good lesson for us as chiefs' wives because as we live with children in the communities, we see a lot of things as children can now not be disciplined.
" When the First Lady brought this programme we were so delighted that we can now control our children. Even when we are left alone here, we can convene a meeting with other women and share notes on what we learnt for the benefit of the community. These children were engaging in sexual activities and dressing provocatively. We do not deny that we are in an era where girls put on trousers, but there is a respectful way of putting these on," she said.
Mr Milton Ntabeni, who is Chief Ntabeni said; "This programme is important because people no longer understand where they came from, but the First Lady is encouraging us to keep following our culture. As Chiefs we will see to it that this programme won't die. We will work with our headman and their spouses so that the programme reachs every youth. In the gota we took the boys through various life lessons and i have faith that they will change their behavior for the better," he said.
In the Nhanga, the First Lady taught girls with the help of chiefs' wives and elderly women from the village.
During the nhanga lessons, Gogo Anna Lino; "These children no longer perform household chores. When they leave for school they return at night and you shudder to think where they will be. They are taking family planning pills and some are getting birth control injections privately. We are troubled by these children who are engaging in sexual activities at tender ages."
In her advice to the youths, Gogo Cecilia Govo, warned children against yielding to peer pressure.
"Do not yield to peer pressure in schools. As your parents we work very hard to put you to school and we do not expect you to engage in love affairs. You should be focused on education. Some of the boys you elope to do not even have a cockerel at their homestead. Children are copying a lot of bad things from televisions. Take it as a blessing to find a respectable person like the First Lady coming to teach you life," she said.
The First Lay said the first husband for every girl should be her education.
"We want you to treasure your education. Through these teachings we are not preparing you to elope tomorrow, but we are doing it for your future. Learn to say no, especially to relationships at tender ages. The Government says you can go back to school after giving birth, but things will be different, even your level of concentration will be divided because your mind will be on the child. Sex at a tender age is dangerous as it brings many challenges," she said.
The programme was held at Chief Ntabeni's homestead.
While girls were in the nhanga, boys too were in the gota with chiefs and the elderly being taught various lessons.
In her main address, the First Lady said good behaviour and morality were key to a brighter future and implored the children to be respectful.
"Madzimai (women) you have left your important chores to come and teach our children on this Mother's Day zvinova zvinoratidza kuti tese tinoziva mwanakomana nemwanasikana watinoda kuumba munyika (which shows that we all know what kind of daughters and sons we want to nurture in the country). As parents let's join hands and advise our children and teach them our traditional values and morals," she said.
The children who participated were given certificates of attendance by the First Lady who appointed them ambassadors.
They were given food hampers, school bags and stationery. In addition girls were given sanitary ware.
The first Lady also gave food hampers to Chiefs, their spouses and the elderly who were teaching the children.