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Timothy and His Giving Tree

Timothy’s grandmother gave him two gifts before she passed away. The first was a small gourd, meant to symbolize giving. The gourd only darkened if he gave to others. “The darker the gourd, the richer his life will be,” she told him. At the time, Timothy didn’t believe he had anything to give. He was an orphan, living in poverty, struggling to keep himself and his family alive. 

But, in January 2020, Timothy, then 15, joined the  Amani Kanthali empowerment group. Shortly after that, he opened a business selling bananas. When the pandemic hit, the little savings he had accrued vanished quickly, forcing him into manual labor. He feared Zoe would shutter and that he would be forgotten, left behind by another organization that failed to keep its promises. But Zoe Empowers was different. 

Timothy and his younger siblings, Emaculate and Raphael, received regular contact from Zoe throughout the pandemic. The family earned soap, a hand washing bucket, and sanitizer upon completing their health and hygiene training. Timothy recalls this gesture filling them with hope. In July 2020, Timothy reopened his business, this time selling hard-boiled eggs. He met with his group mates, participated in table banking and merry-go-round fund, and added more fresh vegetables to his store’s inventory. 

However, when a second lockdown occurred in 2021, Timothy’s momentum halted again. Government restrictions limited hours of operation, making it a challenge for Timothy to sell his vegetables. Around this time, Timothy received a Covid grant from Zoe to stay afloat. “This made me feel like God was giving me a second chance,” he recalled. “It made all the difference.”


Timothy’s business weathered the storm, but the turbulence didn’t leave much to invest at home. And so, Timothy leaned into his grandmother’s second gift, a large tree on her property. In late 2021, he cut it down and harvested the wood to build another room next to his grandmother’s home, where he and his siblings had lived since he was 12. This addition was a tremendous accomplishment for Timothy. “I feel surrounded by my grandmother inside my new home,” he said.


Timothy also submitted paperwork to regain ownership of his former home. After his father’s death and his mother fled, Timothy approached an uncle for help, but instead of offering support, the uncle stole their property. Through Zoe Empower’s child rights training, Timothy learned that his uncle broke the law. Zoe connected Timothy to local officials to report the case and is hopeful he’ll regain control of the property soon. 

Before his death, Timothy’s father strained the family’s reputation, often caught stealing and abusing others. Timothy noticed the community treats him with more respect now that he owns a store. He made friends in his empowerment group and at church. His siblings are excelling at school. Emaculate dreams of becoming a doctor, while Raphael wants to join the military.

Although his path to empowerment was riddled with challenges, Timothy, now 18, persevered, not only because Zoe Empowers gave him encouragement and strength but in memory of his grandmother. He keeps the gourd in his store, hanging from a piece of twine in the corner. Its once pale yellow flesh has turned brown like the soil, making it easy to overlook, displayed next to bright packages of coffee and tea. But whenever it catches his eye, Timothy is struck by her memory and the meaning behind her two gifts. She was right all along. His life has become richer.

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