2.6 Million Orphans in Kenya

Paula Arnold


There are 2.6 million orphans in Kenya - some living with dying parents. Zoe serves both orphans and children who are vulnerable. Their model believes that the relief efforts should be converted empowerment. They respect the local organizations. They go to leadership and get the village leaders to recruit orphans. They do the inviting to the first meeting. They look for the prevalence of orphans in an area and go there to start working groups. They are informed by statistics.

First they hold meeting of the orphans recruited by local leaders. The first thing they tell them is that this is a Christian organization. They will serve muslims. Not to convert but they show by example. They define household as a group that shares the same cooking area. They try to create group that is within 20 munites walking distance. The first meeting they elect a president, secretary, treasurer. They also pick an Auntie - a mentor that will serve the group. They teach them the lord’s prayer. They tell them that they are not orphans, “Our father who aren’t in heaven” It changes their perception of themselves.
They asked them to see their future as their father would like to see them in the future. They also ask them to identify other orphans. Some will drop out at the first meeting, so those left are asked to reach out to other orphans. 90% of the groups identify their own pastor. They also name their own group. Checks are written to a working group not to an individual. They have to open their own bank account. Start with training on food security. Most don’t have food so they teach them to grow crops. They also ask them to create a dream for their future. They try to help them focus on what would make them happy. They share that dream with the rest of the working group. The dream is the thing that makes Zoe work.
They help them make their dream realistic. They ask them to create a dream in 1, 5 and 10 year dream so that it is realistic. They are told they will be involved for 3 years because it sets the limit on help so they know they are moving toward independence. They work as hard as possible for that period. UT studied the program ans determined that it is 86% successful – the heads are supporting their siblings.