The combination of all areas of ZOE creates a fully comprehensive model. Absent of any one area, the cycle of poverty will continue.
When a U.S. partner pledges their three-year support, a community in need and eligible children are identified. Orphans and vulnerable children who are infants to 20 years of age and have lost one or both parents are a priority. Other eligible children include those living with elderly or terminally ill caregivers or are in otherwise dangerous situations.
Identified children are are given the opportunity to partner together in geographically-based groups of 60 to 100 children. Most children belong to sibling groups, within the larger working group, having at least one older sibling between 14 and 2O yrs of age. A chairperson, secretary and treasurer are elected and an adult mentor from the community is nominated. These working groups do not live together, but work hand in hand helping pull themselves and each other out of extreme poverty, and becoming like a new family in the process.
Before ZOE even begins working with these orphans and vulnerable children, we are working our way out of their lives by facilitating connections beyond ZOE through local partnerships. Trainings for all topics like health, hygiene or child rights are conducted by local experts to facilitate life-long relationships. For the same reason, vocational trainings are through local apprenticeships when possible; local churches are engaged where young people grow in faith, leadership and relationships beyond ZOE; re-enrollment in school; having successful community businesses which often employ others, and becoming a contributing member of society all strengthen social and professional connections.
Upon graduation, these young people can claim not only normal social connections in their community, they have more robust social structures than a non-orphan might have. These complex social relationships are a powerful contributing factor to the long-term sustainability built into ZOE’s program.
“We had a thought to come up in life. You had a thought to bring us up in life. Now God has brought us together.” – Best of Life Group, ZOE IndiaBecome a Partner
For the first time, children are asked to dream about their future. ZOE Facilitators give the opportunity to explore their current situation and consider how they can build upon their current resources. They may have nothing more to offer than a dream. It is through this dream process that the ZOE facilitator gains a better understanding of the specific needs or traumas each child has suffered as they help each child develop a plan to reach their goals and create a vision for their future.
Because ZOE does not give away food to participants, resources and training are provided for children to grow or buy food for themselves as quickly as possible. ZOE ensures children can access health services at the beginning of the program and immediately begins teaching about hygiene. Early in the program, ZOE promotes the use of safe water, hand washing, use of latrines and gives children access to mosquito nets to prevent malaria.
ZOE encourages participants to either remain, or re-enroll, in formal education. ZOE supports this effort by assisting with uniforms, school fees and book expenses on a declining scale over the three years. ZOE also offers vocational training so that participants can learn trade skills.
Through business management and access to capital, ZOE works to ensure orphan households are able to gradually meet their needs without outside support or intervention. Over the three-year program, the children develop business plans and are given a micro-grant during their first year. During year two and three, they have access to progressively more sophisticated micro-loans through the approval of their working group. The money is paid back to the group’s bank account with an interest rate determined by the group. As the group’s fund grows, it is used to boost individual income generation projects for members.
ZOE strives to ensure all children are free from abuse, neglect, discrimination and exploitation, and that they have access to legal services to ensure their rights are respected. Through ZOE, children and community leadership learn about child rights and how to enforce them. ZOE connects them to relevant local government officials so that children can obtain birth certificates, resolve land ownership disputes and navigate other situations involving abuses of rights.
Many children entering ZOE’s program feel they have been abandoned or cursed by God, or that God could not love them. Through ZOE children both see and hear the love of God. At the same time, the services of ZOE are religiously non-restrictive and non-coercive. Conversion in order to participate in ZOE’s empowerment program is never a requirement.
Want to see empowerment in action? Create a fundraiser to help a ZOE working group get started! Once the project is funded, we’ll keep you up to date on their progress.Fundraise Now
ZOE children who undergo the transformative power of the program understand that the change can’t stop with them. Part of their responsibility is to now invest in their community, so that others may be given the tools to move beyond poverty and desperation. ZOE children are taught that being part of a community means giving back more than you’ve been given, and that the blessings they experience can and should be passed on to others.
Reports on each working group are submitted to the US ZOE office regularly. These reports are passed along to the funding partner for the working group. ZOE employs multiple methods to measure and monitor success in the empowerment program. This includes visits to the post-graduate groups. Since tracking graduated groups, ZOE has found a very high percentage of groups continue actively working together many years after graduation. ZOE partners are always welcome to travel to visit the program and see the impact for themselves.
Do you want to see evidence of how ZOE’s impact in the life of a child multiplies and transforms entire communities?Read about Cecelia
Enter your keyword(s) below and hit 'Enter'
Enter your information below for access to this free resource.