Because You Gave…

Date Posted: 10/13/2016

Advance Special contributions and other donations from across the conference have helped fund over 5,000 orphaned and vulnerable children across Africa, India and Guatemala to become self-sufficient.
 
“When we look back, we realize that we came from so far and we achieved a lot of things. We were living in very difficult life conditions: homeless, hungry, desperate, isolated and with no hope for the future. But today, we have homes, fields to grow our own food, and domestic animals to provide manure. We attend school and some of us have good school marks because of you.”
 
ZOE (www.zoehelps.org) trained children are more than grateful to the Texas Annual Conference, as is evident in this excerpt from their “graduation” report from the Uruyange Group in Rwanda. “Because you gave so generously in recent years to the Advance Special, there has been a ripple effect of hope exploding within multiple ZOE groups,” notes Rev. Diane McGehee, Center Director of TAC Missional Excellence. “We celebrate ministries like ZOE for empowering children to improve their own lives and the lives of their siblings and others in need of hope.” Thanks to the sponsorship dollars donated to these ZOE “working groups” by the Texas Annual Conference and congregations, over 5,000 orphans and vulnerable children should never need charity again.
 
What your Partnership Provided
Each eldest child, some as young as 11 yrs. old, and caring for younger siblings received a grant to start a business and seeds and related resources to begin vegetable gardens. ZOE staff assisted in procuring land for both individual households and for group projects. When necessary, ZOE paid some of the costs for school and medical expenses until the children themselves were able to cover these costs. Your partnership provided the initial funds for a savings and loan account to which the groups continue to add money as projects progress. This type of revolving account is used to provide loans or grants to members. Vocational training, farming, child rights training, and seed money for housing are also facilitated through donations to ZOE.
 
TAC-partnered groups (groups directly funded by TAC):
2013 three Rwanda groups = 134 households (impacting 321 orphaned and vulnerable children)
2014 one Malawi group = 35 households (impacting 104 orphaned and vulnerable children 
2016 two Zimbabwe groups = 46 households (impacting 164 orphaned and vulnerable children)
 
Churches in the TAC have also helped ZOE start programs in new continents, with one program in Guatemala (thanks to St. Luke’s UMC Houston) and one in India (started by The Woodlands UMC).  Truly the TAC has helped ZOE take this wonderful program empowering young people world-wide.
 
“The conference partnership has given these children access to the resources and training they needed to transform their lives permanently out of poverty.  What you have done for them, they are already paying forward through helping others.  Truly you have helped these children help themselves,” adds ZOE’s Chief Executive Officer Rev. Gaston Warner. There is one-on-one assistance provided by ZOE program facilitators to make sure each participant received the advice and help needed to succeed, as well as counseling for emotional trauma as necessary.
 
How the graduates are supporting themselves:
The working group discussed and approved grants for individual income generating activities and group projects that they all could work on together. The youth usually received money to start their individual projects and grants of resources (like seeds, fertilizers, and technical advice) for their group projects. The groups have started banana plantations, and corn and vegetable farms, also purchasing pigs and hens for individual projects. Other children sell fruits and vegetables, trade hens, rabbits and eggs, offer bicycle taxi services or run a food store kiosk. Additionally, youth use their partnership dollars to attend vocational school. One such orphan in the Ihumure Group has been trained for tailoring and has the tools to generate an income via a start-up kit of a sewing machine, iron, scissors and fabrics.
 
If you would like to travel over with ZOE and see what God is doing in Africa, India or Guatemala, or if you have any additional questions about ZOE, feel free to contact Gaston Warner at gaston@zoehelps.org or 919-414-4167.