The first group of over 500 vulnerable women and girls from Epworth, who were enrolled for various programmes by the Zimbabwe Open University in partnership with the Angel of Hope Foundation, is expected to graduate in November as the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa’s initiative continues to garner interest in local communities.
The sprawling settlement of Epworth is infamous for vices like prostitution and drug and alcohol abuse, and the First Lady decided to start the programme to help the residents overcome them.
Over 3 000 women, girls, people with disabilities and orphans, among other disadvantaged groups, are expected to be empowered with skills to create self-sustainable livelihoods. Lessons began in earnest on October 1, and currently, three programmes are running while three more will commence next week.
The entrepreneurship and business enterprise development programme in the Faculty of Commerce has raised a lot of interest with more than 150 taking the course. Other programmes include the Early Childhood Development (ECD) and the programme under the faculty of Agriculture. The Epworth local board has come on board to provide the facilities where learners are doing their lessons. Beneficiaries of the free university courses expressed their gratitude to Amai Mnangagwa for affording them the chance to get skills that will help them change their lives for the better.
Sex workers, who were part of those targeted by the initiative, said they were willing to leave the oldest profession to start businesses which would earn them a decent living. The initiative has been inclusive, gaining the interest of both young and participants as old as 70.