Today we met an entire working group. This one is named Faith. The first day here we met a graduate, the next day this group in their third year, next it’ll be the 2nd years and then the group that is beginning this journey.
The Faith Group is led by the chairman Alfred. He shares that when his parents died, he couldn’t feed his 4 siblings. Sometimes they ate once a day and sometimes they went to sleep hungry. There was no money for uniforms to send his siblings to school so there was no hope that they could ever change their desperate living conditions. Because of Zoe he now owns land. He harvest enough corn and beans to feed his family and to sell. His profits went to purchase livestock: cows, goats and rabbits. When he was younger he had a dream of becoming a teacher. There was no money for school for him but today all of his siblings are in school and the oldest is on his way to becoming a teacher to fulfill the family dream. Alfred is a sibling but Alfred is clearly the respected father of his household. He shared how when his family had nothing they were despised in the community. Today, those people who despised him are his friends. Such a spirit of grace and forgiveness is a beautiful thing to witness. Such a witness. We saw the face of Christ over and over again as we heard their stories. One girl began by saying “look at how healthy I am.” For us, being healthy is expected but in their world it is a grand accomplishment. Part of the Zoe Empowerment program is to teach them how to care for themselves and prevent illness.
We met the working group in their cornfield. They work it together and the profits from the field are put into the working group account to act as a safety net for the group if someone gets hurt or sick and cannot work. Each of them have their own business. Four are motor bike mechanics, 4 of them share a “shop” under a tree in town. They were so proud to have us visit them at their work.
In this group 65% of the head of households are girls and they have all kinds of businesses, growing crops, buying and selling livestock.
The treasurer of the group Susan is a tailor. She has 4 siblings ages 3, 6, 9 and 15. Susan invited us to her home to show us what she had built for her family. She also showed us her 2 cows 5 goats and a pig. She is making enough money to hire a neighbor girl to watch her siblings with they return from school and to care for the livestock while she is at her shop working. So Susan is providing work for others. She also sews a school uniform once a quarter to give to a child who can’t afford one, tithing in her own special way. She is quite the entrepreneur!
Each of the young people we met had a strong sense of pride in their own accomplishments but always a great desire to care for others. Many of them care for other orphans. Alfred shared that when he sees a child in need and suffering he remembers his own suffering and is compelled to act.