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April 21, 2020

Crisis resilient – This is a term we use to describe the young group members who have become empowered through the Zoe Empowers program. This means that even if everything is lost to the young people because of some external crisis, they know how to rebuild their lives and businesses because the program has helped them discover how to pull themselves out of poverty.

Many of you have read about Moses from Kenya. Moses is one of the first Kenyan program graduates. Today, he is a college graduate and full time teacher who manages a large farm.

We decided to check in with Moses given the recent changes and school closures due to COVID-19. We learned that because Moses has maintained a diverse income stream, the change in his employment as a teacher is not affecting his ability to care for his family. His farm is not only providing tomatoes to the community during a food shortage, it is also generating enough income to employ one additional community member who lost their job because of COVID-19.

When we visited Moses in 2016, he shared that he is a self-taught carpenter. He learned much of what he knows from local friends and the internet. Today, he is using those skills while at home to help serve his community. Truly these young people not only bounce back from what once would have been devastating challenges, they also help others in their communities to weather life’s challenges.

You can read more about Moses when our story-telling team paid him a visit in 2016.

Moses Zoe Empowers graduate

 

April 20, 2020

Street children have become isolated from survival. When the streets are empty and businesses are closed, street children are unable to find work or food for themselves or their siblings. They are unable to beg or steal from sellers at open markets. They are unable to turn to local shelters for basic services. Now more than ever, orphaned and vulnerable children who lack shelter and/or an adult caregiver are vulnerable to abuse, violations, hunger and illness. Programs using a holistic approach that include immediate intervention and long-term solutions are necessary.

 

April 19, 2020

“Stay home” is a simple concept – unless you have no home.

On April 12, International Day for Street Children, numerous social justice organizations rallied online using the hashtag #SafeSpacesforStreetChildren to draw attention to the inequality faced by homeless children during the COVID-19 crisis.

By law, street children deserve the right to acquire a safe space to protect themselves. But, when implementing plans to keep their populations safe, many vulnerable children have been overlooked making this vulnerable group more exposed than ever before.

Titus, from Kenya recalls sleeping on a tree branch before he joined a Zoe empowerment group. Read his full story here and how the order to “stay home” is affecting orphaned and vulnerable children who have no home.

 

April 15, 2020

When new Zoe empowerment groups formed this past January, training to start the first small business began immediately. They quickly thrived, laying the ground work for a stable income and even a savings account. Pictured below are three such businesses started a few months ago in Vizag, India.

We all know what has happened in recent weeks to businesses around the world. As the newest Zoe Empowers group members are forced to close their shops for the COVID-19 quarantine, we have been told, the children are doing what they can to care for their families using the little they saved in a few short months. They are trying to not lose hope and yet grateful for their savings account during such a crisis, no matter how small.

Looking ahead, we know, the money children would have reinvested back into their business during normal times, will be mostly depleted for food and other necessities during the lock down.

As governments allow for countries like India to reopen, critical funds will be needed to reinvest back into the businesses for first year empowerment groups who lost critical time during the shelter-in-place period.

We have created a fund for this purpose and the first $26,000 will be matched by generous friends of Zoe. Please consider joining this effort.

April 7, 2020

Today is #WorldHealthDay. The children enrolled with Zoe Empowers Zimbabwe are doing their part to help communities stay healthy by producing short educational videos about #COVID19 prevention. These videos become life-saving with important information that can be shared quickly, efficiently and safely via mobile phones through a platform widely used around the world called What’s App. Empowered young men and women are creating impact in the world that can’t be measured.

In this video, Tinashe from the 2019 St. Francis empowerment group welcomes his group members, Tavengwa and Nyasha into his village – but not before they wash their hands and greet each other with safe social distancing.

April 6, 2020

Something to brighten your Monday! The Watiyankha Empowerment group celebrates their successful harvest of maize and soy beans a week before Malawi confirms its first case of #coronavirus. Careful planning gave them enough time to put their food stock in dry storage before the practice of physical distancing was implemented. We are looking forward to watching more of this group’s success as they become part of the October 2020 graduating class.

April 3, 2020

Preparations continue to be made across Africa. An update from Zoe Empowers Kenyan facilitator, Ann Karanja:

The month of April is a special month for the children living on the streets. It is the month we commemorate the International Day for Street Children (April 12th). However, during this time they are facing the grim challenge of COVID-19 survival. Just like any other child worldwide, they are experiencing worry, anxiety, fear of contracting the virus, and loosing their lives or their loved ones. It is absolutely clear they are shaken. However, children from Zoe Empowers Kenya, have taken efforts to recognize the need of these children during this time. They went to the streets of Maua to teach their peers on the streets simple ways to protect themselves from the virus: the proper way to wash hands regularly with running water and soap, social distancing and how to take care of “men” (mouth eyes and nose). They also provided them with hand washing stations and soap. This will go a long way in preventing the spread of COVID – 19 amongst this population.

 

April 2, 2020

To prevent the spread of #COVID19 Belinda and Caroline from the Future Empowerment Group in Zimbabwe added hand sanitizer and liquid soap to their cleaning supply business. Their products are now sold in local communities and distributed among Zoe Empowers group members.

 

April 1, 2020

Although Zoe Empowers staff has limited travel and meetings to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in the areas we serve, group facilitators have stayed in touch with all groups via phone. During these phone exchanges, you might be surprised to learn that the children have been asking how YOU, their U.S. friends and partners, are doing.

Even in this unprecedented hardship, the children are grateful for the opportunity to participate in Zoe Empowers. Many have offered to help by sharing their knowledge and abundance with others in their community.

Below is a letter written by Justa Kianira, the secretary of the Blessing Muili Group in Kenya. In it, she shares a brief group update and well wishes to all.

To our friends in USA,

Greetings in the Name of the Almighty God. We hope this message finds you well and engraved in the palm of God’s hands.

We, as Blessing Muili Group, are still doing great in our group activities and we thank God for your prayers and support as well. During this difficult moment in life, that the entire world is facing the Coronavirus problems, we as the group members are trying to give support to each other through giving food from our food banks to the needy in the community and also prayers being the most important thing in life, we hope and pray that God may victoriously enable us [to] all find happiness and liveliness again with you, your families and relatives and the world at large.

We hope soonest possible you all will visit us as we joyfully celebrate the mercies and grace of our Mighty God. May God protect you and bless you in your endeavors. Pass our greetings to your families, relatives and friends.

THANK YOU.

Yours faithfully,
Justa
Secretary – Blessing Muili Group
2nd year, Kenya

 

March 31, 2020

Billions of people occupy the Earth, separated by oceans, borders, language, and culture. Although it is easy to feel…

Posted by Zoe Empowers on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

 

March 27, 2020

As the world adjusts for COVID-19, many systems that have been part of the Zoe Empowers program for years have made preparations efficient and effective in each community where we work. For example:

Mobile phone communication using platforms like What’s App have been part of daily life for each empowerment group, community mentor and most child headed households long before COVID-19. Throughout the program, communication chains have quickly been set up to efficiently share accurate information about prevention and protection against coronavirus.

Mobile bank accounts have been part of Zoe’s empowerment program for many years. Every empowerment group and most households have active bank accounts. This has made the purchase of needed supplies a safe and efficient process as social distancing practices are followed.

Health and hygiene has been a main area of training and education throughout the Zoe Empowers program, therefore proper hand-washing along with other important hygiene and sanitation practices are familiar to the Zoe Empowers children. Therefore, new CDC recommendations for COVID-19 have been swiftly implemented, as well as shared by the group members with others in their communities.

 

March 26, 2020

Watch the entire recorded update given by Gaston Warner.

 

March 18, 2020

Many of you have asked how the young people in Zoe Empowers’ program are doing as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds. Thank you both for thinking of these young people and for your prayers. There have been identified coronavirus cases in Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Liberia and India. We also believe there are likely cases in Malawi and Tanzania as well, although these latter countries have not been confirmed.

Reegan Kaberia, Zoe Empowers’ Chief Program Officer and Kenya Country Director, has been working with all the programs during this time, and the following steps are currently implemented to keep both the children and the staff safe:

  • Meetings have been halted in all areas where this action is recommended
  • Most programs are using social media and SMS texts sent to the young people and group leadership on how to avoid catching the virus and other helpful safety protocols; Zoe Empowers program staff are receiving special instruction so they are knowledgeable about how to advise the young people
  • While the program staff are limiting travel and meetings, they are in touch regularly with all the groups via phone to monitor the groups progress.

As the situation continues to develop, we will keep you informed about how the young people are coping with this additional hurdle as they pull themselves permanently out of extreme poverty. We rely upon your prayers for the children’s immediate safety and for Zoe Empowers’ ability to weather this time and continue to meet the needs of these amazing young people. Thank you for thinking of these vulnerable young people as you attend to keeping yourself and those you love safe.

Blessings,


Gaston Warner

ZOE

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