Partnership with Tearfund
and Zimbabwe Orphans through Extended hands (ZOE)
Letter from Fiona Morrison of Tearfund
Twenty years ago, I stood in a children’s hospital in Zimbabwe, cradling a young baby boy and listening to the story of how he’d been found, abandoned in a toilet, a tiny victim of the same poverty that had left his mother feeling that she had no choice. It was a moment that has stayed with me over the years, and I wonder what became of that child, and what chances and opportunities awaited him as he grew up in an orphanage, or care home, or if perhaps his mother ever came back.
Memories like this from my visit to Zimbabwe all those years ago make me so grateful that you, as a church, have chosen to sign up to the Connected Church link and will now be supporting Zimbabwe Orphans Through Extended Hands - better known as ZOE. They are a Tearfund partner doing incredible work with local churches, helping them to reach out and support vulnerable children in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is home to roughly 890,000 children who have lost one or both parents. ZOE know that when a child loses a parent they are at a much higher risk of dropping out of school, becoming victims of abuse, and living in extreme poverty. Without support, many fall into working in exploitative labour in order to survive. Tragically some even turn to prostitution.
Clive was one such vulnerable child. His parents had died, and he lived with his grandmother. He was 13 years old, but you would never know, because sickness as a result of his HIV had stunted his growth. They couldn’t afford to get to the nearest clinic, so Clive kept getting sicker..
ZOE encourages churches to take responsibility for children like Clive. Because of the church’s place at the centre of a community, they are easily able to identify the children most at risk, but often they don’t know how to help. ZOE trains and mentors church members for up to three years so they will know how to react in even the toughest situations..
A local church trained by ZOE noticed the family’s situation - they clubbed together and provided school fees for Clive, as well as paying his bus fare to go to the local clinic, where he could pick up drugs to manage his HIV. That took care of his physical needs, but there was still his emotional health to look after. His grandmother says that before the church came along to help, she and Clive were shunned by the local community. Clive didn’t have any friends, and losing his parents had left him with deep emotional scars..
Fortunately churches are also trained to provide emotional support. Now Clive is part of a children’s club in the church. He can have fun, make friends, and begin to heal emotionally thanks to the psychosocial support provided by the church.
These activities are supported and managed by church volunteers who are passionate about working with children. Their core training from ZOE includes counselling, advocacy, recognising and preventing child abuse, and passing these skills onto the community. The church starts out aiming to help the most vulnerable, but the training they receive blesses everyone.
Thanks to your support through Connected Church, ZOE will be able to help 18,000 children like Clive through the local church. They will help them to remain in education, provide the chance of a stable livelihood, and empower them to live dignified lives with hope and a future. I am so encouraged to learn of Tearfund partners like ZOE, who have such a heart for vulnerable children and a desire to see poverty overcome..
I look forward to journeying with you as you support ZOE and hear more about this transformative work throughout the year. Please note if any individuals wish to receive the quarterly updates and prayer points, contact the Global Focus team and you can easily be kept up to date directly. Bless you for your generosity and vision for this work!
Read more about the ZOE project here and follow their blog here