ZOE Empowers: Transforming Lives through Sustainable Development

ZOE Empowers: Transforming Lives through Sustainable Development

by Trinity’s ZOE Empowers Team (Matthew Williams, Russ Mick, Candace Duclos, Irene Gonzalez)

In this issue, we introduce a new series, “Global Glimpses: Spotlight on Our International Missions.” In the coming issues of Tidings, we will highlight and give updates on each of our mission partners across the globe, including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Zimbabwe. 

ZOE Empowers, a non-profit organization with a mission to uplift orphaned and vulnerable children, operates under the empowering principle of helping children help themselves. Through this unique approach, ZOE Empowers enables these children to generate their own income, achieve food security, and build a sustainable future. This self-reliant model not only addresses immediate needs but also instills a sense of dignity and hope among the youth, setting the foundation for long-term prosperity.

Trinity United Methodist Church in Tallahassee is a steadfast supporter of ZOE Empowers. Through a member donor, the Children’s Ministry, and the Youth Ministry, Trinity has adopted a group who has named themselves Harmony Sadziwa. We began support of the group in October 2023 to and they will graduate in September 2026. This partnership underscores Trinity’s dedication to global outreach and sustainable community development.

In April 2024, a team from Trinity, including Candace Duclos, Irene Gonzalez, Russ Mick, and Rev. Dr. Matthew M. Williams, visited the Harmony Sadziwa Group. Their visit was a testament to the strong bond developing between Trinity and the ZOE program, offering firsthand encouragement and witnessing the significant progress made by the orphans and vulnerable children. The team returned inspired, seeing how the children, through their hard work and the support of ZOE Empowers, were transforming their lives and building a brighter future.

The ZOE Empowerment Model

ZOE Empowers operates through a comprehensive three-year empowerment program designed to tackle the multifaceted challenges faced by orphaned and vulnerable children. The program’s holistic approach includes elements of food security, income generation, health and disease prevention, education, housing, and child rights awareness. Each component is tailored to ensure that by the end of the program, the children are financially, physically, emotionally, and socially secure.

1. Group Formation and Training:

When ZOE first enters a community, they engage local and tribal leaders to both vet participants and introduce the empowerment program. The youth, who are the heads of their households, elect leaders, set group rules, and decide on meeting schedules. Training on food security, health, business management, and child rights begins immediately. For instance, the Harmony Sadziwa Group started a nutritional garden to enhance food security and teamwork among members.

2. The Dream Process:

One of the transformative elements of ZOE’s program is the Dream process, where children articulate their aspirations for the future. This exercise helps them set goals and develop a roadmap to achieve them, fostering a sense of purpose and direction. The dreams are regularly reviewed and updated, serving as a constant source of motivation.

3. Building Connections:

Isolation is a significant challenge for orphaned children. ZOE Empowers creates vital connections through peer groups, mentors, and community leaders. These relationships provide moral support, resources, and a network to help children overcome challenges. The presence of Trinity’s Harmony Group further strengthens these connections, providing not only financial support but also emotional and spiritual encouragement.

4. Child Rights and Health:

ZOE Empowers educates children about their rights and connects them with local officials to enforce these rights. Health education covers basic hygiene, disease prevention, and nutrition. Children receive necessary items like mosquito nets and hygiene products, ensuring they live healthier lives.

5. Income Generation and Financial Literacy:

Economic self-sufficiency is a core goal of ZOE’s program. Children brainstorm viable business ideas, develop business plans, and receive micro-grants to start their enterprises. Through group projects and individual businesses, they learn financial management and the importance of saving and reinvestment.

6. Education and Housing:

Education is crucial for breaking the cycle of poverty. ZOE assists children in returning to school by covering expenses like uniforms and fees. Housing support includes providing materials for repairs and temporary rent assistance, ensuring the children have a safe and stable living environment.

7. Faith and Community Engagement: 

While ZOE’s program is religiously non-restrictive, it offers a compelling example of Christian love in action. Meetings often begin with prayer and Scripture readings, and the children are encouraged to engage in community service, demonstrating their faith through their actions.

The Impact of Trinity’s Harmony Group

The Harmony Sadziwa Group in Zimbabwe comprises 27 households with a total of 82 children. These children, through the support of Trinity, are on a path to self-sufficiency. The visit by Trinity’s delegation highlighted the tangible results of ZOE’s empowerment model. The team was deeply moved by the resilience and determination of the children. They witnessed the success stories of young entrepreneurs, the flourishing gardens providing nutritious food, and the renewed sense of hope in the eyes of the children.

A Sustainable Future

ZOE Empowers is more than just a program; it is a movement that transforms lives and communities. The tagline, “Helping children help themselves” encapsulates the essence of ZOE’s mission. With the unwavering support of partners like Trinity, ZOE continues to create lasting change, empowering children to rise above their circumstances and forge a path to a brighter, self-sufficient future.

The partnership between ZOE Empowers and Trinity’s Harmony Group exemplifies the profound impact that collaborative efforts can have on the lives of the most vulnerable. It is a powerful reminder that with compassion, support, and empowerment, even the most challenging circumstances can be transformed into stories of hope and success.