ZAMBIAN First Lady, Dr Christine Kaseba, yesterday lauded orphanage and dairy projects being run by the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe in Mazowe.

She said structures built at the orphanage were state-of-the-art and resembled an estate, a significant departure from conventional homes for orphans she knew.

She said houses for the orphans were so good that they went beyond the role of merely providing shelter.

Dr Kaseba said this in an interview with journalists after touring the proj­ect.

The Zambian First Lady is accompa­nying her husband President Michael Sata who is on a three-day State visit during which he is expected to offi­cially open the 53rd edition of the Zim­babwe International Trade Fair in Bul­awayo today.

“When she (Amai Mugabe) was talking to me about it yesterday,

I just thought that it was just like any other orphanage that I have been to. Little did I know of what I was coming to see. It’s really amazing,” said Dr Kaseba.

“She has been doing it from her heart, she has been doing it not for fame but the desire to assist the needy.”

Dr Kaseba said the houses for orphans were so good that they resem­bled what Amai Mugabe envisaged her own children to stay in.

The Zambian First Lady said she was sure Amai Mugabe could even stay in the houses herself comfortably, judging from the way they were built.

“Here you don’t see orphanages, but homes.

“They are not just there to give shel­ter, she has not cut corners, she has put quality. The material is of high quality, well-thoughtout, they don’t look like an orphanage, it’s like an estate,” she           said.

“The orphans are being looked after very well and I must really commend her. As Zimbabweans you are blessed.”

On the dairy project adjacent to the orphanage, Dr Kaseba said: “When you look at that project, you would expect to see whites, but I saw Zimbab­weans.”

Amai Mugabe said while she had come a long way and covered a lot of ground by way of building houses and a school, she had not yet accomplished what she set out to achieve.

“You might think that I am proud. Not yet. I have a lot to accomplish here. When we started, a lot of people did not believe what we had set out to achieve,” she said.

“I said to myself I wanted to come up with the best, doing what I would have wanted for myself, what I would have wanted for my biological children to have,” she said.

To this end, said Amai Mugabe, she took a lot of time to come up with what was the best outfit and a departure from what was the norm of what constituted an orphanage.

The First Lady said she was very particular on quality and had to insist on what she wanted with the Chinese contractors who had their own designs.

She said children who would have attained the age of 18 will not be thrown out of the home, but will play other roles.

Children who excel academically, said Amai Mugabe, will be assisted to secure places at universities and other training institutions.

“Those who cannot excel academically, we will keep them here as foster parents to look after those who are coming. It’s an ongoing thing,” she said.

The project, she said, had been helped to keep going by donations.

“I will put to use whatever resources I get for the purpose that they would have been set out to,” she said.

Amai Mugabe said a school, which is nearing completion, will be commissioned next month.

Plans were afoot to build a secondary school and a hospital at the centre, funds per­mitting.