Hayes Barton Partners with ZOE to Empower African Orphans

Empowerment. The process of developing the capacity to control one’s own life; to become self-sufficient; to garner the strength, skills, and resources to achieve one’s own goals. Empowerment is the end product for literally hundreds of African orphans and vulnerable children as a result of Hayes Barton’s Outreach Partnership with ZOE in Africa over the past decade.


The story begins with our church’s introduction to ZOE, a young program responding to the tremendous needs of so many children in Africa living in extreme poverty in the early 2000s. At that time, ZOE was a relief mission, and in 2007 and 2009, we sent medical mission teams to Zambia in support of ZOE’s work there.  


Early on, ZOE saw how difficult it was for individuals—and organizations—to break out of the cycle of relief and dependency and sought out a model with more long-term impact. ZOE found that model in Rwanda with a group of social workers led by Epiphanie Mujawimana who had designed a very different way to care for orphans in their community, by assisting them to care for themselves.  With . . . roughly one social worker per 1,000 children, . . . [c]hildren were grouped into mutually –supportive peer working groups and given access to the basic training and resources needed to grow their own food, start businesses, enroll siblings in school, attend vocational training, learn about God’s love for them, understand how to stay healthy and prevent disease, learn about child rights, and be connected to a supportive community. [wearezoe.org]


Over three years, these orphans transformed their lives and the lives of their siblings, enabling them to care for and support themselves sustainably.  In a holistic approach, the groups addressed simultaneously all the areas that bound them in poverty.   The groups became extended families and often “paid it forward”, helping others as they had been helped to take control of their lives in order to have more satisfying and productive lives.  In ZOE’s words, they were “helping children never need charity again”.


With Hayes Barton’s first ZOE mission trip in 2007, the tremendous outpouring of support for ZOE’s work in Africa had extended well beyond the needs of the team we sent to Africa, so the Church directed the additional funds to become the foundation needed to formally establish the empowerment model program in Rwanda.


In 2009, in addition to the medical mission to Zambia, Hayes Barton sent a team to Rwanda to see the empowerment model in action. The team worked alongside the staff and children there, worshiped with them, and celebrated with them.


Since 2013, Hayes Barton has continually supported at least one working group of about 80 to 125 members, including their younger siblings, through their three-year journey to self sufficiency. Our first group, the Abahizi (“Courageous”) Working Group graduated at the end of 2015.   Our Humura (“Serene”) Group followed in 2017.  


Our current group, the Indashyikirwa (“Champions”) Group began its journey in July of 2017. And because of a matching grant to ZOE, we are also able to support half the cost of the Duterimbere (“Progress”) Group, which also started in July.


In addition, the Seekers Sunday School Class sponsored the Ubuzimabushya (“New Life”) Group from 2015 through 2017. Other church members have supported ZOE through Holiday Share and individual contributions, as well.  


The Greek word “zoe” means “life”. ZOE, with Hayes Barton’s strong backing, has, indeed, brought abundant life to the hundreds of children we have assisted on their transformational journey to self sufficiency.


A team from Hayes Barton will travel back to Rwanda in late July to see ZOE in action and to plan for deepening our connections with ZOE and its work. 


For details, please contact

  • Olivia Fleming—Chair, Outreach Committee

ofleming@mac.com; 919-602-3725

  • Tim Price—Director of Outreach

tprice@hbumc.org; 919-832-6435 x1143


    ZOE by the Numbers


  • 7—Countries served

  • 35,000—Orphans and vulnerable children now enrolled

  • 73,000—Total children served (including currently enrolled) since 2007

  • 80 to 100—Children in a typical working group

  • 85%--Success rate, as measured by self sufficiency upon graduation

  • 5—Number of groups supported thus far by Hayes Barton





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