Zoe Empowers: A Christian response to a humanitarian crisisMissions and Outreach
Many of our Florida United Methodist Churches are involved in Zoe Empowers and are partnering with empowerment groups. It is a vital need.
Zoe Empowers was founded in 2004 as a Christian response to the humanitarian crisis of orphans left in the wake of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.
The beginning of this ministry was inspired by a 15-year-old woman who felt called by God to care for AIDS orphans Africa. She then shared her experiences with her church and whomever else would listen, inspiring others and leading to the establishment of ZOE.
Zoe Empowers has grown to a current enrollment of over 40,000 orphans and vulnerable children in the three-year empowerment program across seven countries and three continents.
When graduates are added to this group the number swells to more than 70,000.
I recently reached out to CEO Gaston Warner for an update on how Zoe Empowers is impacted by COVID-19.
This was his response:
"The orphaned and once-vulnerable young people in Zoe Empowers program continually astound us. These young people in years two and three of Zoe’s three-year program, as well as graduates, continue to organize community efforts assisting the elderly and educating their communities.
Young people in the Zoe program continue to organize community efforts assisting the elderly and educating their communities
“It is beautiful to see those who used to beg, now reaching out to help others. As soon as the pandemic began to affect Africa and India, Zoe began providing handwashing stations and educational materials to the Zoe participants. And the participants immediately began sharing and replicating these resources for other vulnerable people in their communities.
“However, for those young people in the first year of Zoe’s program, the shelter-in-place restrictions have been devastating. Without time to accumulate savings and experience in their businesses, they face this time lacking the resilience of participants in their 2nd year and later in Zoe’s program.
“Many have consumed their business grants and inventory just to survive this time. As soon as Zoe staff can return to the field, we are hoping to make an emergency cash infusion of $30 per child-headed household for participants who entered the program in the second half of 2019, and $50 per household for those participants starting earlier this year.
“This infusion will immediately allow these young people to restart business and earn income to feed their siblings.
“As with all the other aspects of Zoe program, this assistance is not just for the moment, but will have a sustainable impact on the lives of these young people. But we need your help to make this happen."
As you can see Zoe Empowers has been impacted greatly by COVID-19.
Even as they struggle the orphaned/vulnerable children are still serving their community and helping their community.
In the photos with the article you will see Jesse and his siblings have been busy raising chickens for the community and caring for the elderly by giving them supplies like soap and flour so they can stay home.
They remind their friends and family to wash their hands regularly, keep a social distance and wear a mask when moving around public places. Jesse's empowerment group makes detergents and face masks to protect themselves and their community.
If you are able to support Zoe Empowers please visit their website at zoeempowers.org or contact Molly McEntire at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can be involved.
Molly McEntire is a Mission Training and Volunteer Coordinator for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. She provides training for churches/ministries to ensure successful mission trips, and shows what a healthy model of missions looks like. Molly stresses how to make a healthy impact on the communities they serve, while teaching team leaders to understand their roles and responsibilities. She also helps churches interested in mission work find places for their teams to serve, along with all international/domestic insurance needs for teams and individuals on the journey.
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