Amanda Manyeruke Launches The ‘One Hug A Day’ Campaign To Help Curb Suicide
When 26-year-old upcoming gospel singer Amanda Nyagato Manyeruke became a mother at the age of 19, her world was embroiled in a series of unexpected events. From public humiliation to having a low sense of self, she slowly lost her will to live.
“A couple of years ago, I attempted to commit suicide, I was a teen mom, I was young and I had a lot of responsibilities,” she says. “..You become a social outcast because our community-people are very judgmental and it can be very brutal.”
Being married to a popular musician intensified her battles, especially when their private lives took centre stage.
“My husband and I were young, I was 19, he was 21 and we were both reckless. At some point, he had negative publicity and that really affected me, I felt so unworthy, I felt humiliated, ” explains Manyeruke. “There’s nothing as hard as public humiliation, you start to feel like your life has just crashed. It was a very difficult time for me and I just felt ‘I might as well just stop this’.”
However, through family support, Manyeruke managed to escape this dark phase.
“I had my family, they had my back, they empowered me, they strengthened me, they held my hand throughout the whole journey,” she says.
In this, she found a sense of purpose, making it her mission to help young moms and launched the Arukah Trust. Part of the Trust’s mission is to offer teen moms counseling services, as well as hosting seminars and projects training, to equip them with relevant skills that enable them to afford a decent living.
“I was a baby-with a baby..I experienced a lot of challenges so as I grew older, I got so passionate about it because I didn’t want other young girls who are in that situation to go through what I went through,” she says.
Still, Manyeruke felt she needed to do more to address a growing problem in the country, suicide.
The 2017 World Health Organization report ranks Zimbabwe at number 19 in terms of suicide rates with 1641 reported suicide related deaths.
“The figures are very depressing,” she says. “Some of them [are] as young as 10 years old, that’s something that really alarmed me.”
The issue also hit home because Manyeruke witnessed her sister battling depression.
“Depression is brutal..she went through hell and back,” she ponders on her sister’s ordeal.
In an effort to help curb suicide rates, Manyeruke subsequently launched the One Hug A Day Campaign. This was especially important with society becoming more individualistic and with support systems slowly crumbling, explains Manyeruke.
“You find that in the black community, we don’t think depression is real. When someone is depressed, we think they are not being strong, they are being weak, but it’s real, it’s something that we need to attend to. We need to listen to people and find out what other people are going through and just give an ear, the spirit of togetherness..” she explains.
Manyeruke uses the word ‘hug’ metaphorically in her campaign as a symbol of affection, to encourage people to spread love, to rebuild the spirit of togetherness and curb suicide rates. The burden of hardship has become heavier on people and people just feel alone, so that is the awareness that we want to create, says Manyeruke.
Manyeruke has officially added the title philanthropist to her growing portfolio.
“No issue is petty, when we see people going through things we should not look at them and say they are weak but rather we should be there for them and listen to them and help them..,” she says.