Munoshamisa “You Are Wonderful” Dora Working Group, Zimbabwe

Partnered withSt. Mark’s UMC, 2015-2017

The following report highlights the activitiesand achievementsof one family from your working group. Although each child is unique, most of the children in theMunoshamisa Dora Group have faced similar challenges and are making comparable progress through the ZOE empowerment model. Included with this case study is some general information about ZOE’s “Dream” approach to helping children set their goals.

Head of Household: Agnes, 15 (pictured center holding a baby sister)

Dependents: Brothers: Innocent, 17; Barakina, 3; and Inos, 18 months. Sisters: Linnet, 17; Tabie, 10; Ivy, 8; Eliana, 7; Mavelours, 5; Linia, 5; Irene, 3; Jessica 18 months.

Challenges: It is hard to even imagine being in Agnes’s position. She is one of 14 children who all share the same father but have different mothers. Her large family is the result of the multiple wives her father has had, a tradition of the church to which they belonged. That tradition also does not believe in the education of young women, so her father would not let her go to secondary school, saying it was not for girl children.

After Agnes’s mother died, the father found a new wife and abandoned the previous children. Although they live with their elderly grandmother, the older children have taken on the responsibility of providing food, caring for the younger children, cleaning, cooking, and all other parental duties. There was no time for church or money to pay all the school expenses. One of the babies suffers from asthma, but received no treatment. Another suffered from kwashikor, a disease of extreme malnutrition. The older members of the family were eating only one meal a day and trying to provide two meals for the young ones. It was a very hard life with little hope for a young girl.

When ZOE invited Agnes to join the Munoshamisa Dora Working Group, she and her family began their journey out of extreme poverty. And it started with a dream.

Focus on: The Dream

Most orphans and vulnerable children entering the ZOE empowerment program face a daily struggle to survive. With their energy consumed by the need to find food for themselves and their siblings, there is neither time to think about the future nor reason to hope for something better. But through ZOE and your partnership, the children learn to imagine a new life and prepare to make it a reality.

During one of the early working group meetings, the ZOE program facilitator leads members through an exercise called the Dream process where they explore their current situation and then consider what they want and how to get it. After discussing hopes and goals with their siblings, the family leader creates a poster of responses to a standard set of questions from the ZOE program facilitator. To the right is an example of the Dream document.

The head of each family presents their Dream to the rest of the working group members who express support and give feedback. These Dream documents help the program facilitators better understand the conditions of the children’s lives so they can address specific needs or traumas suffered. The family keeps a copy of their Dream, often displaying it in their home to provide daily motivation as they strive to create their new life.

The following are the responses Agnes provided to the Dream questions after she had discussed it with the other family members:

  • What makes you feel sad? Accidents, to be insulted, being selfish.
  • What makes you happy? Working in the garden; assisting other people in need.
  • What happens in the community that you do not like? Gossiping; insults.
  • What isyour dream for the future? Paying fees for my siblings, assisting other children in need.
  • What will be your guiding principles to achieve your dream? Listening to elders; respect other people’s views; doing good to others.

Family Specific Achievements Because Of Your Partnership

Food Security: Many good things have happened for Agnes, thanks to your investment in her working group. The family planted a kitchen garden for vegetables and a field of maize (corn). Their first harvest provided enough food for their own consumption and surplus to sell. With the profits from the sale of the corn, Agnes was able to purchase five chickens, which provide food for the family, additional income, and fertilizer for the garden.They are now eating three meals a day which include a nutritious variety of foods.

Income Generation: After participating in business and finance training, Agnes received a grant of $150 to start a small grocery store. She sells cooking oil, salt, corn meal, sugar, dried fish, tea, and phones. This small business enables her to provide necessities for her large family and pay school fees. With profits she has also helped her brother launch his own business of making tin items. Agnes notes, “We are now able to work and stay together as a family as well as eating enough food.”

Group Involvement: The Munoshamisa Dora group has been a lifeline for Agnes. Now she has friends and can socialize, even as they work together. The group has a garden, a poultry project, and a mutual savings program for short term loans so that members can improve businesses or homes. They have spent time together in prayer and study of bible verses. They contribute a dollar towards a funeral fund and help churches when needed. Agnes herself was helped to read and understand the bible stories because she had never been to church. She has also helped other members in the group, like giving money to two girls to boost their poultry businesses.

Health: With such a large family and very little money, it was hard to keep clean and healthy. However, ZOE provided training which included personal hygiene and specific information on how to reduce asthma attack. They were taught how to improve their living conditions and together the family constructed a compost pit for the household waste and is currently building a latrine for their home (see picture to the right). They used the money they have earned to purchase blankets and pay medical consultation fees.

Education:ZOE initially helped with school fees for the school aged children and now Agnes can pay the fees from her businesses profits. ZOE staff talked to her father about her education and he agreed that she could be enrolled in secondary school the beginning of this year.

Faith: Agnes had had no experience with church or God because she was required to stay home and complete house chores when others went to church. She did not understand the purpose of going to church services nor did she feel connected to God. Now she is active in church and she sings in the choir. She gives her offering and also contributes towards food for the Sisters in the church (a group of women who are committed to working for the church and do not marry).

The transformation in Agnes’s life is due to your partnership. She and the other members of the Munoshamisa Group are thankful to God for the opportunities your investment has provided. She additionally asks for prayers for “progress and success in my project; the spirit of [caring for] one another and protection of the family.”

Now Agnes and her siblings have plenty to eat!

The information below about your working group was taken directly from the report written by Zimbabwe Program Facilitator Noreen Bindura who works with the children. Only minor edits were made for clarification.

Group projects and resources supplied by ZOE

Each member of the group was provided with maize (corn) seed, fertilizer for their crops, and an income generation start-up grant of $150. The group was also provided with $80.00 for garden seeds and supplies. They have already planted a variety of vegetables in their garden. (For more information about the grants and how ZOE helps the children begin businesses, read the section below called “Focus on: Income Generation.”)

Group activities

TheMunoshamisaGroup greatly appreciates being part of the ZOE family. They have formed a tight community within their group and seek out activities to learn and develop. The group regularly meets to study the Word of God and pray together. They also do home visits to each member in the group for peer monitoring and evaluation of progress in income generating projects.

The group members have a shared savings account into which each head of household contributes four dollars per month. Part of this money is made available as loans to members in the group so that they can purchase larger items or expand a business. Loans have to be approved by the group and borrowers repay with interest. Part of the group fund can also be used to start group income projects.

The members of the Munoshamisa Group also contribute one dollars per month toward a common funeral fund. This fund is meant to assist group members financially with the death of immediate family members.

Special achievements of the group

  • The Munoshamisa group members continuously encourage each other to pray, read Bible stories, and attend church services.
  • The group provided financial assistance to one child who was not doing well with his poultry project.
  • The group also provided a school uniform to a group member who attends high school.

The Munoshamisa group members have also taken the time to volunteer together and assist others in their community, such as helping to make building bricks for an elderly woman in their community (pictured to right). They are even lending a hand on infrastructure rehabilitation projects in their community like filling in road potholes with sand and stones.

Community perception about the group

The community leaders are happy and appreciate ZOE for the work assisting children in their communities. The village head, Mr. Mambondiani said, “We would like to thank ZOE for the good job it is doing. Now our children know and fear God, they assist in community work, and because of the projects we have seen a decrease in crime rate.”


When the group first began to meet, the guardians of two households refused to allow the children to attend the weekly meetings. The ZOE program facilitator, group mentor, and group members explained how the project works, and now all children are attending group meetings.

Prayer Requests: The group members ask for prayers for a spirit of cooperation among the group.

Money is collected for the group funds during a regular meeting.

Becoming food secure and generating an income are usually the most urgent needs of the children identified for ZOE. The information below discusses ZOE’s empowerment approach to overcoming these challenges.

Focus On: Food Security

Children entering the ZOE empowerment program struggle every day to alleviate their hunger. Usually they try to find work, butbecause they lack status or an adult advocate in their community, they are paid extremely low wages or small amounts of food.They might try growing their own food, but they do not have the resources or knowledge to succeed. It is not unusual for these children to go two or three days without eating. Occasionally they must resort to begging or even taking from a neighbor’s field just to survive. Even those children who do manage to eat daily suffer health consequences from the poor nutritional value of their meals.

With guidance from ZOE program facilitators, new working groups learn what foods they need to eat as well as explore different ways to attain a stable food source. Because ZOE is an empowerment program, the children are not told what to do, but are instead given options and training so that they can devise their own approach to becoming food secure and self-sufficient.

Children in rural areas who can access land will learn about the best agricultural practices for their region and then be given the seeds, fertilizer, and tools to begin vegetable gardens and/or plant crops like corn. Other ZOE households might start with raising small animals, like rabbits or chickens, after learning about animal husbandry. All children are encouraged to begin earning money as soon as possible to increase their food security.

Focus On: Income Generation

Young family leaders are encouraged to develop multiple income sources. Working groups usually take on a joint business project, like growing a cash crop, raising small livestock, even running a restaurant. These projects will produce profits that all can share. Individual households also start small income generating-activities like buying and reselling food items, phone air cards, clothing, etc. Later, ZOE helps the children dream larger dreams about how they can provide for themselves and their siblings in more secure ways. For example, ZOE may helpa child enroll in vocational classes to start a trade business (like tailoring, auto mechanic, or hair styling), open a kiosk business to sell dry goods or enlarge their farm or livestock breeding to produce surplus they can sell. It is typical for an ambitious young person in the ZOE program to run several income-generating activities simultaneously.

Before being given resources to start these small businesses, ZOE trains all working group members on how to craft a business plan and manage money. After this training, the group takes the following steps:

  • Discusses what businesses could succeed in their community and how they can cooperate to serve the marketif multiple children want to try the same business.
  • Creates individual and group business plans, presenting these to the group for discussion.
  • Votes to approve the proposals or help the members create a better plan.

Once the business plan is approved, the individual will receive a micro-grant and/or a start-up kit to begin. Throughout this process the ZOE program facilitator is available to provide guidance, but not to tell the group what to do or make decisions for them. In this way the children begin to learn how to make their own decisions while assisting one another so they may continue this process beyond the three-year ZOE program.

Focus On: Working Group Formation

Poverty often means a life lived in isolation, unconnected even from those who share the same struggles and challenges. A ZOE working group provides orphans and vulnerable children a community where they experience understanding, compassion and acceptance. Together, they begin their journey towards a better life.

To form a working group, ZOE program facilitators first contact community leaders and local officials to educate them about the empowerment approach and to ask for their help in identifying children. During the first meeting, the children and their young caregivers learn how they will change and improve their lives within three years. Then ZOE takes a step back.

Working group members elect their own leadership, make rules to guide their meetings, choose a group name and decide where to hold weekly gatherings. These once-marginalized children learn from ZOE staff that their community and their Hope Companion partner have faith in their ability to succeed.

The eldest child from each family attends weekly meetings to discuss their activities, both achievements and challenges, and to share in prayer and reflection with each other. Additionally, ZOE’s staff and selected community members hold regular training sessions with the group to cover topics such as food security, health and disease prevention, business management, and child rights.