Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
FIRST Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa this afternoon distributed food hampers and blankets to over 5 000 elderly people and people living with disabilities in Bulawayo.
The gesture touched the beneficiaries some of whom could be seen shedding tears of joy, as they mixed and mingled with the First Lady.
Amai Mnangagwa handed over the gifts at an interactive meeting held at Harvest House Church in Bulawayo.
Speaking at the function, Amai Mnangagwa said it was the duty of society and all citizens to take care of elderly people and people living with disabilities by providing basic needs.
Amai Mnangagwa underscored the importance of strengthening the family unit to provide safety nets for the elderly and other vulnerable members of society.
She said it was imperative to have regular engagements with such marginalized constituencies in society, as part of efforts to strengthen to the familial fabric.
“It is important that from time to time we set aside time to meet as a family unit. A typical family unit is made up of parents, children and close relatives.
“In this set up, you find the aged, the young, the disabled, those attending school, those who are at work, the disabled and in some cases the ill,” she said.
Added the First Lady, “We are meeting here as a family with a special focus on being with our old people and those with disabilities.
“In cases where our elders become incapacitated to fend for themselves, we should come to their rescue by providing their basic needs such as food shelter medication and clothing”.
Amai Mnangagwa urged local authorities, hospitals, development partners, churches and the generality of Zimbabweans to dedicate their time and resources to the welfare of the elderly and people living with disabilities.
She challenged Zimbabweans to examine their activities to see if they fit in the national thrust of inclusivity.
Amai Mnangagwa said people with disabilities should be given equal opportunities with their able bodied counterparts.
The First Lady said she would lobby for legislation that sets aside a quota in various sectors of the economy for people living with disabilities.
“It may even be necessary to have legislation set aside specific quotas for people living with disabilities,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa said people living with disabilities should also be accorded equal access to education.
“It is a fact that education is the basic fundamental requirement for a decent lifestyle.
“Therefore we should strive to ensure that access to education by people living with disabilities is safe guarded,” she said.
The First Lady urged the elderly and people living with disabilities to take advantage of numerous Government programmes aimed to empower citizens.
Amai Mnangagwa’s interactive meeting with the elderly and people living with disabilities, came about after a request by Bulawayo women during her visit to Bulawayo in April this year for the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.