In the regions where ZOE works, conflicts between adults often have dire consequences for children. Such was the case for John. Born in an area of Kenya where there was an intense dispute over land ownership, people in his village frequently became entangled in the conflict, which often led to violence and killing. When John was young, his mother fell victim to this violence. In fear for his life, his father fled the area and never returned, leaving John and his two younger brothers orphaned.
John always wanted to be an artist, but he could never use his talent. Many years of his youth were about survival: finding food for himself and his brothers. He dropped out of school to work on neighbors’ farms for a little money or food. Often the boys resorted to begging to survive, which sometimes led to exploitation and abuse.
A couple of years ago, John heard about ZOE and went to a meeting to learn more. Intrigued that someone was willing to share resources so that he could improve his life, he chose to join a ZOE working group. John received seeds to plant a small farm. Having some skill in barbering, he also received funds to open a barbershop. He soon established regular clientele, and could provide for his family’s basic needs. He sold produce from his farm and saved his money. It was not long until he had enough money to expand his business.
John still had a desire to use his artistic abilities. He began to paint business signs for his friends in the group. Everyone was pleased with the unique and artful designs. He soon used the skills he learned from ZOE to start a second business painting signs in his community.
Once an impoverished orphan, John now has two businesses, a farm with vegetables and livestock and one employee. He is able to send his brothers to school. With the help of their group, John and his brothers have repaired their house and dug a latrine.
He is proud to have achieved his dream of “becoming a good businessman in society.”
John’s new dream is to find ways to reach out and help children who are struggling the way he once did.