A First Lady’s pledge to the vul­ner­a­ble

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - De­bra Matabvu

FIRST Lady Amai Grace Mu­gabe has ex­pressed her firm com­mit­ment to con­tinue work­ing with the un­der­priv­i­leged, say­ing she sees this as her call­ing from God.

Amai Mu­gabe made the re­marks in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with The Sun­day Mail at the 29th Dan­hiko An­nual Par­a­lympic Games in Harare yes­ter­day.

The First Lady, who has been Pa­tron of Dan­hiko Project for 20 years, said she de­rived grat­i­fi­ca­tion from as­sist­ing the less for­tu­nate.

“For the past 20 years I have been Pa­tron of Dan­hiko, I have en­joyed noth­ing more than danc­ing with these chil­dren. These chil­dren re­quire us to treat and recog­nise them as part of the com­mu­nity and the so­ci­ety.

“That is the rea­son why I make sure that ev­ery year, with­out fail, we have the games just to make them happy and have that sense of be­long­ing. They need to have that feel­ing that they too are recog­nised as part of the so­ci­ety . . . We thank the Almighty for ev­ery day that we have at Dan­hiko.”

Amai Mu­gabe said she yearned for Zim­babwe’s econ­omy to boom so all Zim­bab­weans could lead bet­ter lives.

“I want to see the chil­dren here pros­per­ing in ev­ery way and of course even for the coun­try‘s econ­omy to im­prove,” she said. “But it can only im­prove when these de­bil­i­tat­ing sanc­tions are re­moved...

“We all need to sur­vive; we are a sov­er­eign coun­try and (Western coun­tries) should give us the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop our coun­try with­out hin­drance. And with the way things are it very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion.

“That is why I said dur­ing pre­sen­ta­tion of my speech that we thought at one time we would not con­tinue to host the games. But with divine prov­i­dence we have been able to sol­dier on and we hope we will con­tinue to do that.

“I urge the cor­po­rate world to em­u­late what oth­ers are do­ing. We de­pend on them. Dan­hiko is not like other schools that can raise funds on their own to carry out day-to­day ac­tiv­i­ties. They de­pend on well-wish­ers and hope­fully they will con­tinue to sup­port us.”

In her open­ing ad­dress, Amai Mu­gabe Be­lieve Nyakud­jara said “come rain come thun­der”, the games would al­ways be held.

“For as long as I am the Pa­tron, and with God Almighty by my side, this an­nual sports ex­trav­a­ganza will for­ever con­tinue to fea­ture on our an­nual cal­en­dar.”

She went on: “In the past 20 years, the games have grown from 41 clubs with 800 ath­letes in 1997, to 116 clubs with 2 416 ath­letes in 2016. The games have since been ex­tended be­yond our bor­ders, and now are a re­gional phe­nom­e­non.

“I wish to com­mend par­ents and of­fi­cials in schools, clubs, uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges for their con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to these games.”

Amai Mu­gabe hailed the ex­ten­sive up­grade of fa­cil­i­ties at Dan­hiko Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre.

The ren­o­va­tions in­clude re­vamp­ing of the wa­ter retic­u­la­tion sys­tem, con­struc­tion of three all-weather ten­nis courts and ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

“I also man­aged to pur­chase state-of-theart kitchen and din­ing hall equip­ment, while the school also re­ceived fur­ni­ture, books and gym equip­ment, dur­ing the pe­riod un­der re­view,” said the First Lady.

Amai Mu­gabe said Dan­hiko’s part­ner­ship with Ja­pan’s Em­bassy in Harare would help pro­duce tal­ented ath­letes that could par­tic­i­pate in the Tokyo 2020 Par­a­lympic Games.

“As an in­sti­tu­tion, we have de­vel­oped a strong part­ner­ship with Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co-op­er­a­tion Agency, who have been sup­port­ing us by pro­vid­ing vol­un­teer staff for sport and vo­ca­tional train­ing.

“The Ja­panese Em­bassy has, in the past three years, availed coaches from the Ja­pan Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee, who are con­duct­ing sports work­shops in wheel­chair bas­ket­ball and wheel­chair ten­nis, in prepa­ra­tion for Tokyo 2020 Par­a­lympics.”

The First Lady spent much time talk­ing, danc­ing and jok­ing with ath­letes and guests; and also watched ac­tiv­i­ties like wheel­chair bas­ket­ball, swim­ming, ten­nis, ta­ble ten­nis and ath­let­ics. Cabi­net Min­is­ters, se­nior Govern­ment of­fi­cials and cap­tains of in­dus­try at­tended the event that ends to­day with a prize-giv­ing cer­e­mony.

— Pic­tures:

Ta­lent Muchegwa of Dan­hiko op­er­ates a mo­bile phone at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the Dan­hiko Par­a­lympic Games in Harare yes­ter­day.

First Lady Amai Grace Mu­gabe joins some of the par­tic­i­pants on the dance floor

Wheel chair bas­ket­ball was one of the main at­trac­tions of the an­nual event

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