Tendai Rupapa  – The Sunday Mail, in VICTORIA FALLS

THE dream to transform Chambuta into a fully-fledged children’s home and skills development centre is close to fruition after rural and urban councils teamed up with other corporate entities to fundraise for the project through a golf tournament.

Chambuta is a former refugee camp in Chiredzi where children who were living and working on the streets of major cities and towns are being rehabilitated.

The facility has become a safe haven to these former street children who are now being housed at Chambuta Children’s Home, thanks to the mother of the nation — First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa.

The children are being equipped with education and various skills to enable them to fend for themselves and grow into responsible citizens.

The fun-filled tournament, which was held in the resort city of Victoria Falls on Friday, is part of the holistic approach being implemented to provide a face-lift to Chambuta Children’s Home.

Corporates and individuals joined hands to support the First Lady’s philanthropic work through an auction event and donations that helped mobilise $1 605 097.92 and US$3 135 to be utilised at the children’s institution.

Goods that included food stuffs, gas cookers and tanks were collected on the night and will be used at Chambuta.

The First Lady, who is the patron of the Angel of Hope Foundation, officially opened the tournament and teed off on the first hole at Elephant Hills Golf Course.

She made a score of 5 (One over par).

Braving the scorching heat in the resort town, the golfers led by the First Lady spent the better part of the day on the golf course doing it all for charity.

There were close to 100 golfers at the golf course and the First Lady’s team of four included Youth, Sport and Recreation Deputy Minister Tino Machakaire.

So committed is the First Lady to the development of Chambuta that barely three months ago she spent a week at the institution assessing its needs and taking part in various activities there.

In her keynote address at a dinner function held to celebrate the journey towards rehabilitation of the Children’s Home and prize giving to the winners of the tournament, the First Lady extended gratitude to the support from public and private players.

She thanked the Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs, Cde Richard Moyo, for welcoming her and the Mayor of Victoria Falls, Councillor Somvelo Dlamini, for giving her and her entourage the Freedom of the City.

“Let me hasten to thank our civic leaders who are the heads of our urban local authorities, that is, the mayors and chairpersons under the auspices of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) who have heeded the call from the Angel of Hope Foundation for support in the transformation of the former Chambuta Refugee facility into a national children’s rehabilitation and skills development centre.

“I must confess, when I invited UCAZ to Chambuta to see for themselves the work that needed to be done and the adoption of some buildings by members of UCAZ for the purpose of renovations, I was so grateful for the warm and favourable response. But honestly, I never thought that UCAZ president Clr Josiah Makombe and his association would go further to host a golf tournament in support of the work that the Angel of Hope has embarked on at the Chambuta National Children’s Rehabilitation and Skills Development Centre. Thank you for hosting this tournament. May the Lord bless you all.”

The Mother of the Nation thanked corporates that donated items and funds.

“Your support has made this event a great success. The goods and funds that you have contributed will provide a great Christmas cheer for the children at the Chambuta Centre. May the good Lord be with you.”

The First Lady said Chambuta National Children’s Rehabilitation and Skills Development Centre was born out of a realisation that the economic hardships affecting the country were making children more vulnerable.

Juvenile delinquency, persecution by adults and child labour, she said, were some of the push factors leading children to live and work on the streets.

“As the mother of the nation, I realised that the number of children living and working on the streets was increasing by the day. Some children are as young as 7 to 10-years-old and as a mother it pained me. I then sat down with my team and we decided to create a children’s rehabilitation and skills development centre where we could provide shelter in a family set up, provide education and counselling as well as provide skills development.

“The aim is to create, from these children, people who will be equipped with skills, who will be able to look after themselves as well as help others in need.

“We then identified this former refugee facility which suited our vision. That is how the Chambuta Centre came about. There is still a lot of work to be done. The children need to be fed and clothed and given skills. It is a long-term project which requires everyone’s involvement.”

First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over prizes to the Doves Funeral Service team representatives Mr Nyasha Matsika and Miss Talent Kadzima who scooped the top prize in the fundraising golf tournament in Victoria Falls on Friday night. Picture: John Manzongo

She said no one should be left behind as people work together to improve the lives of children in general and vulnerable children in particular.

“Children are the future leaders who will look after this country and us in our old age. Parents, let us therefore ensure that our homes are safe and accommodating for our children so they do not run away from home. We must not be monsters who are feared by our children. Let us give them care and love. As neighbours when we see someone’s child in need be it lack of food or clothing, let us give a helping hand. There are a lot of young orphans who live by themselves, ward councillors should look for them and liaise with the Department of Social Welfare to ensure that they are going to school, that they have food and clothing and security.”

Amai Mnangagwa praised the Elephant Hills Hotel management and staff for hosting the golf tournament.

She said plans were underway to officially open the centre and to change its name.

Ucaz president Cllr Makombe said his association felt honoured to have been invited by the First Lady to participate in the reconstruction of Chambuta to accommodate disadvantaged children.

This golf tournament, he said, was part of UCAZ’s efforts to support and give hope to children who are in seemingly hopeless situations.

“As the UCAZ President, let me assure you Amai, that we will do everything within our capacity to ensure that Chambuta is a great success. With my colleagues the mayors and chairpersons of towns and cities, we will continue to support children in difficult circumstances.

“Children are the future and we will go an extra mile to create a great future by ensuring that the children, who are the custodians of the future, are well equipped with life skills and good character. Let me take this opportunity to announce here today, that this charity golf tournament will not be a once-off event but will be held annually in support of children in difficult circumstances,” he said.

Clr Makombe said there was no better investment than investing in children, who are the future.

“By so doing you will have guaranteed the perpetual success of your business interests for you will have contributed to the national pool of skilled human capital. UCAZ will continue to seek support from the corporate sector and when we do, please support us. We assure you of transparency and accountability in the handling of your contributions and that they will reach the intended beneficiaries. UCAZ is open to external audits of all the contributions.”

He thanked the First Lady as Patron of the Angel of Hope Foundation for inviting urban local authorities to participate in the worthy cause.

“Her kind heart, love energy for the disadvantaged inspires us all to continue to work for a safe society for the benefit of all children.”

Deputy Minister Machakaire said he was impressed by the First Lady’s show of love and assured her that he would continue to support her programmes. “We are going to support you in all the programmes you are going to be doing right round the country.”

Giving an update on the progress made at Chambuta, Deputy Minister Machakaire said they have so far completed the tennis court, the basketball court, volleyball and netball pitch, while the arts gazebo is 60 percent complete.

“We want to assure you that by the time you get there, we will be on another level. Amai all of us are just following your footsteps. What you are doing for the underprivileged cannot be done by everyone. We pray that you remain with the wisdom to do good for all the children in the country. There are a few people with the kind of patience you have,” he said to applause.

Cde Machakaire said he hoped golfers could develop a golf course at Chambuta where big tournaments will be held so that the centre can give birth to accomplished golfers.

To cap off the night, outstanding golfers were honoured for their efforts with team Doves scooping the coveted prize of the day followed by team Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe which came second while team African Sun took third position. Team OPC and team ZINWA took the fourth and fifth positions respectively.

The First Lady handed over prizes to the top five. However, some of the winners returned back their prizes so that they could be auctioned and the funds channelled towards Chambuta.

Ministers of State Judith Ncube and Ezra Chadzamira, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo, his deputy Marian Chombo and Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Raj Modi, attended the event.