Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
The ladies of the night in Nyamapanda had the opportunity to mingle with the health ambassador, the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa who, in addition to seeking to empower them through income-generating projects, wants to protect them from diseases that plague the world of prostitution.
The First Lady encouraged women to quit the world’s oldest profession, which exposes them to physical violence, loss of dignity and disease.
However, she acknowledged that women peddle their bodies due to various circumstances beyond their control.
Amai Mnangagwa works hard to remove these women from the streets while pursuing her desire to leave no one behind.
Popular for her solution-based approach, Amai Mnangagwa brought in Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank Managing Director Mandas Marikanda and other bank teams to explain the various projects the bank could help women venture into. .
The ladies thanked Amai Mnangagwa for her intervention and vowed to step down and start a new chapter with her help.
The First Lady also took the time to talk with teenage mothers in the region who will also benefit from the said projects through the Women’s Bank so that they become independent and take care of their children.
Speaking to former ladies of the night, the First Lady said: “The work you do vanangu, you did not go into it by choice, but by situations. Some saw it as the only way of survival. The challenges you face are severe. Some of you have said that sometimes men sleep with you with a knife under your pillow.
“Today I want you to highlight some of the issues because I understand since you are not the first band to do this to take care of your families.
“If you are beaten or if the man uses you, he can leave without paying and if you ask for your money, you are beaten. There are many scars and diseases in the profession. You can’t stand up to a man because the power is less.
“All these challenges are what you face, but as a mother, I say izvi cherai kakomba musiye vanangu mutange maprojects and work for your children. I want you to form groups and start income generating projects. I want you to highlight the type of projects you would like to venture into and Women’s Bank will help you along the way.
That’s why I came with them to guide you through the process.
The women did not disappoint as they had a list of projects they wanted the mother of the nation to help them venture into.
Speaking on behalf of the group, one of the women expressed her gratitude to Amai Mnangagwa for her unconditional love.
“We thank you for coming here Amai, you have opened our minds,” she said.
“We had no starting point but now that you have come, we believe in you, our lives will change.
“Amai, sometimes we come across men whom we label ‘Boko Haram’ and these men use us and threaten us with death. They don’t pay for our services. After using us they cross the border and we will never see them and even if we report to the police it will be useless because they would have skipped the border.
“We also contract venereal diseases such as HIV, STIs and tuberculosis or we receive stab wounds requiring treatment. Sometimes we will be breadwinners at home and our money is too little. If we get sick, there are even bigger problems.
“Due to the pressing need to increase our income to support our children and relatives back home, we sometimes sacrifice ourselves to have unprotected sex in order to get more money. As for Mama projects, we can raise poultry and goats.
“We are also able to form groups and start cooking and sewing projects if we are given sewing machines. The ladies said there were good tailors among them who could do wonders if given access to sewing machines. Kitchen projects will also be viable given that Nyamapanda is a border town and we will mainly target truckers.
“We would also be grateful if we can do freezits, we can earn a living because this region is always hot. Among us there are also good hairdressers such as if we are given space and equipment to start our salon , we can do wonders.
Some of the ladies said they did not have national registration documents, whereupon the First Lady informed them of the government’s ongoing mobile registration blitz.
One of the women said she was happy to have met the First Lady and was ready to change for good.
“I’m grateful to you for visiting this area, Mom and I’m thrilled,” she said.
“I started this work after I was raped. I lost my parents at a tender age and was the eldest, which left me with the burden of caring for my siblings. I had a child as a result of the rape and lost hope in life after the incident. I then decided to join the oldest profession.
“We are tired of sleeping with men we don’t like just to feed children and other orphans at home. I’m tired of this job mom, I want to quit.
“It’s hard to wait in a bar and not know if you’ll get any money. Sometimes we dance to attract men and get noticed, but to no avail.
“Some men threaten to kill us after unprotected sex. My life is hard and God bless you for coming here to help us Amai. We are willing to work and earn decent money. I won’t be going back to the bar again and God has changed us all through you. God bless you.”
Another lady from the same group who had a mixed-race child, left the rally in stitches when she said the child showed how they had slept with all sorts of mixed-race men for survival.
After her interaction with the ladies of the night, Amai Mnangagwa then engaged the teenage mothers who indicated that they were between 14 and 17 years old.
The First Lady is traveling the country to raise awareness against early marriages and teenage pregnancies which put girls at risk of health complications.
She spoke with teenage mothers in Mudzi district who recounted the challenges they face on a daily basis.
The 14-year-old and pregnant one said she was living with her 24-year-old husband, but the nation’s mother immediately raised a red flag saying she was too young to meet the demands of running a house and have children.
She then implored the local traditional leader who was present to look into the matter saying the girl was underage.
Others shed tears as they recounted heartbreaking experiences.
Most men would have dumped the young women when they found out they were pregnant.
The First Lady urged women to put their past behind them and prepare to face the future in a purposeful way.
“We came to chat with you and help you,” she said.
“What happened in the past is gone, work for your children now. Tell others who stayed at home, share with them the dangers of having sex before the time comes. You can start over and achieve your goals. Women’s Bank is here to help.
The boss of the Women’s Bank, Ms. Marikanda, then educated the women – teenage mothers and former ladies of the night about the plans and workings of their bank.
“I came with a team from the bank to support you in the various projects in which you wish to venture. All the projects you mentioned are feasible knowing where we come from and what is after us.
“To get out of poverty, you need a project that pays off quickly. If a project takes up to six months, you may back out because you need food to live. We are going to do projects with you that have quick returns,” she said.
The bank is already on the ground to ensure the success of the projects.
The First Lady, who was accompanied by Senate Speaker Mabel Chinomona, Minister of State for Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs and Devolution Aplonia Munzverengwi, and traditional leaders pleaded with chiefs to engage communities and raise awareness the public to child marriage and early pregnancy.
Teenage mothers received food baskets and baby blankets from the First Lady.