The Sunday Mail
Homeless and vulnerable children in and around the capital yesterday had an unforgettable and seemingly surreal experience when they had a fun-filled Sports and Fun Day held at Harare Polytechnic, courtesy of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and the Ministry of Youth, Sports Arts and Recreation.
Soccer games, egg races and traditional games such as tsoro, nhodo and raka-raka were part of the pageantries for the day.
The homeless and vulnerable are often subjected to all forms of abuse — physical and even cheaper labour exploitation. Most people do not sympathise with the children as they view them with derision because of the some of the vices they partake in.
Realising the need to rehabilitate them and offer them a caring hand, the First Lady took time from her schedule to be with the children and participated in playing chess, nhodo and the egg race. Through the Angel of Hope Foundation, the First Lady brought together several homeless children in Harare where they engaged in various sporting activities.
Some of the children who participated in the sporting activities opted to be co-opted in children homes.
Schools such as Queen Elizabeth, Girls High School, Allan Wilson, Prince Edward and Elis Robins also took part in the festivities, which were graced by soccer legend, Moses Chunga.
Addressing the excited participants, the First Lady said the event is meant to provide equal opportunities for those living and working in the streets. “Uyu mutambo ndechimwe chezvinhu zvandinoshuvira kuti kune vana vese vakaita semi maungana pano munge muchiwana mukana wekuva nenguva yakadai, izvo zvinova zvinokurudzirwa mukugara kwedu.
“Pazuva ranhasi taona mutambo uyu sechimwe chekutanga kuti tione matarenda amunawo kuti tiendese mberi zvakanaka zvatichaona uye zvinokuwanisai mukana yakaenzana nevamwe vemazera enyu kuti musasare mumashure.
“Nhasi uno vana vangu mapihwa mukana wekutamba nevamwe venyu vabva kunzvimbo dzakasiyana makasununguka,” she said.
The First Lady urged minors to desist from sexual activities.
Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan province Oliver Chidawu — who was represented by deputy director in his office Mr Ignatius Maungure — hailed the First Lady for facilitating the initiative.
“I want to thank the First Lady for realising that children living in the streets have rights too and they deserve the same care that other children receive. So we want to support this initiative,” he said.
In an interview on the sidelines of the event, Kudakwashe Bundo (16), who lives on the streets, said he was happy to participate at such an event. “I think if I participate in these games I can get a chance to be noticed by people who can help me go places, playing soccer,” he said.
Another participant, 17-year-old Simbarashe Jarahwenya, thanked the First Lady for her egalitarian gesture.
“Drug abuse is real in the streets. Some of my friends say that they sniff glue or drink dangerous substances because they keep them warm during the cold winter nights. So I thank the First Lady for trying to help,” he said.
Winners from the competitions received food hampers from the Angel of Hope Foundation and corporates. FC Platinum Football Club sponsored $2 000, which was given to the four teams that did well in the soccer competitions.
The teams were from Tichakunda and Yemurai orphanages, House of Smiles, an organisation that assists children living in the streets, as well as a group of vulnerable girls from Dzivaresekwa.
Four children impressed FC Platinum officials, who pledged to groom them for their junior team.
The First Lady recently had an interface with the homeless and pledged to assist them acquire formal or vocational education.