ZOE is a distinctive three-year program, developed in Africa that empowers orphans and vulnerable children around the world to overcome extreme poverty, become fully self-reliant, and learn of God’s love for them. Active in Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Liberia, Guatemala and India, ZOE has approximately 28,000 children currently enrolled.
We invite you to Meet a ZOE Child and read stories about the remarkable children who have transformed their lives through ZOE’s program.
ZOE works to break the cycle of poverty, utilizing an approach to empowerment that is:
ZOE is invited into communities where orphans are already living and brings them together in supportive working groups of 60-100 children. ZOE’s indigenous staff members help these children articulate their own dreams for their lives. ZOE then provides the small inputs and training they need to work together to transform their lives in just three years. These children who often feel beyond God’s love are able to both see and hear the gospel in ways that are compelling but not coercive.
ZOE simultaneously addresses all the challenges that keep children in poverty, and helps them:
ZOE’s program facilitators ensure children know about their rights, are free from abuse and exploitation, and can find a safe place to live. Children learn skills such as farming and animal husbandry at monthly meetings. ZOE then provides tools, seeds and farm animals so they can grow and raise their own food. ZOE assists with building secure homes through providing grants to the working group of children who then select and assist with constructing homes.
ZOE’s program facilitators teach children about ways to stay healthy, including boiling water before drinking, washing hands and dishes, and proper nutrition for a balanced diet. After certain standards are met, ZOE provides children with mosquito nets and blankets to keep them safe from insect-borne diseases. Children learn about the causes and prevention of HIV/AIDS, and how to care for those who are infected. Orphans often form anti-AIDS clubs and perform at local events to help educate their communities.
When children first join the empowerment program, ZOE brings them together into a Working Group of 60-100 fellow orphans from their community. This group becomes a new family, able to support one another in many ways. ZOE connects children to their community leaders, and helps them connect to God through worship with their group and through their local church. ZOE’s program facilitators help children reunite with their relatives and siblings who have had to leave home.
When children graduate after three years in ZOE’s program, they are prepared to care for themselves and their younger siblings. They have secure, dependable sources of food and income. Through ZOE, children have access to micro-grants, vocational training, and business start-up materials. They understand God’s love for them and how to share that love with others. Working Groups will frequently reach out to assist other orphans in their villages. These children are prepared to become leaders in their church and community.
In three years or less, these children are so empowered that they no longer need our support. Children who have completed the program often reach out in ministry to other children in their community who are suffering. In this way, the program has a ripple effect, transforming lives beyond the original working group.