In today’s bleak economic climate, many Southern Californians search for ways to increase their financial security. Businesses run promotions to attract customers, 9-to-5 workers moonlight at second jobs, and some people obtain training for new professions altogether. Whatever the case, one thing is clear: many Southern Californians are doing their best to take care of themselves. ZOE Children’s Homes, a Santa Clarita based non-profit organization, helps young people on the other side of the world learn to provide for themselves similarly.
ZOE Children’s Homes’ mission is saving children from human trafficking and sex slavery. Currently, ZOE focuses on saving children in Thailand, a region where these atrocities are prevalent. However, saving children is only ZOE’s first step. In an effort to break the cycle of human trafficking, ZOE has taken on the challenging, rewarding task of rehabilitating extremely impoverished young people into model citizens. Because human traffickers prey on poor, uneducated people, ZOE has developed several programs aimed at teaching young people to be independent self-starters who work hard to provide for themselves and who extend generosity to their communities. These programs include on-going children’s vocational training, life-skills and character development instruction and formal education.
Recently, ZOE created another such program aimed at older students to teach participants sound business and leadership practices. This on-going Micro-Enterprise Program is a cooperative effort between ZOE and charitable U.S. business people. Together, they developed an intensive, three-phase program aimed at teaching young people how to start and maintain their own businesses. Because the training is so rigorous, only 20 percent of participants typically succeed in completing it. Those who meet the program’s high expectations are richly rewarded with low-cost loans to fund their individual small business projects.
The first graduates opened several successful businesses, including a fish farm, a cricket farm and a restaurant. The two farms sell their products to various restaurants and markets for consumption, as deep-fried crickets with garlic and pepper are a local delicacy. Together, these businesses provide stable jobs and help prevent human traffickers from taking advantage of poverty stricken areas.
ZOE’s commitment to giving economically challenged people a chance to build self-sufficient, strong communities is made possible by generous donors willing to help those in need.
If you’d like to learn more about ZOE Children’s Homes or make a donation, please visit www.zoechildrenshomes.org or call 661-255-7963.
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