The Sunday Mail
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-to-day activities. They depend on well-wishers and hopefully they will continue to support us.”
In her opening address, Amai Mugabe 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-the-art 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.