Former first lady Mama Anna Mkapa, yesterday received the international ‘Order of the Smile’ Award, making her the second winner of the prize in Africa in the past 50 years after former South African President, the late Nelson Mandela.
Mzee Mandela scooped the same award which is given to individuals for their exemplary contribution towards fighting for the rights of children, seven years ago. Originated in Poland 50 years ago, former first lady Anna Mkapa was honoured for her tireless efforts to help the disadvantaged Tanzanian children, particularly orphans.
Through the organisation of the Equal Opportunities for All Trust Foundation (EOTF), the former first lady played a major role in ensuring that vulnerable children go to school and access other rights including education.
For instance, in Kibaha District, Coast Region, the foundation established the Kibaha Children Village Centre which accommodates marginalised children.
Handing over the award at the EOTF head office, Polish Minister for Children Affairs, Mr Marek Michalak, said the award committee arrived at the decision that this year’s award deserved to go to the former Tanzanian first lady.
Managing Director of the EOTF, Mr Steven Matee, said through the EOTF, several disadvantaged youth were supported in providing them with education and many of them currently have become professionals such as lawyers, doctors and so on.
“For the former first lady to get this award, it is an honour to our country in the globe,” he said. Receiving the award, Mama Mkapa said the award was not only for her but also for the contributions from her husband, former President Benjamin Mkapa and the staff of EOTF.
She also noted that the activities of the foundation were mainly enabled by the country’s policies about the right of the children. “I see this award as a catalyst towards protecting more the rights of children,” she said.
Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Sihaba Nkinga, said it was a great respect to the country for the former first lady to scoop the award. She said efforts shown by Ms Anna Mkapa were in line with the country’s policy and law protecting the rights of children.