All Posts in Guardian Alliance

April 22, 2013 - No Comments!

Bruised Reeds….Special in the Sight of God

There is a scripture that says "A bruised reed, I will not despise." I always thought that was beautiful, poetic and truly expressed the compassion of God. It felt very personal to me, because I came to the Lord many years ago with damaged emotions and a wounded heart. Now I know that all of us are bruised reeds in one way or another. It is impossible to navigate this world without battle scars. Fortunately He is Jehovah Rapha, the God that heals.

For some of us, our wounds are more apparent than others. Children are vulnerable and deserve protection from a world that is often full of peril and danger. Unfortunately that shield of protection is sometimes lacking, and the results can be unspeakable horror for the innocent, who are so very precious in the sight of God. Such is the case with the children at ZOE. I don't know the personal history of each one of them, but I know they would not be in the ZOE home if they had not been in imminent danger. As a mother of four grown children and grandmother of three, how could I turn away from the cries of children who are in both emotional and physical pain? Oh, I know...we would lose our minds if we lingered on these thoughts constantly. The bible tells us to fix our mind on things that are pure and lovely, and yet to deny the existence of dark forces is to live outside the realm of reality and worse convince ourselves that we have no obligation to alleviate suffering.

I always wanted to be a part of healing a suffering world. I've known about sex trafficking for years, but I never quite knew what to do about it. It seemed so huge, so daunting, and it is, but our God is larger still. We may not be able to fix everything that ails the world, but we can all do something as God directs our paths. One little fire fly might not make much of a difference, but a multitude can light up the sky.

I learned about ZOE when I was attending the Sanctuary Church in Santa Clarita. It sounded like an amazing organization. I contacted them and learned about child sponsorship. It seemed like an ideal situation for me. I live in Los Angeles now and no longer attend the Sanctuary. In fact, I recently purchased a home out here. This house took a lot of renovation, and I had always wanted hardwood floors. I don't think God has anything against us living in a pleasant environment, but as I was spending money on various upgrades, I thought "If I can spend money on renovations purely for aesthetic purposes, surely I can do something for a child who might otherwise be locked into a hopeless situation." I thought of my own children, three of them girls, and imagined them as children in that type of situation." Sponsoring a child was a no-brainer. I am grateful to be part of the ZOE family!

Written by ZOE Supporter Barbara Byrd

August 29, 2011 - No Comments!

Amazing Grace

Well, Grace Baptist, you certainly were fun to hang out with!

 

As a long-term missionary at ZOE, I just love having people come and help us as we care for orphans and rescue children from human trafficking.

 

When teams come, it injects life into all of us. I liken it to being able to plug into your batteries for ten days or so, and we get re-energized and motivated to push on!

 

I love to see how we share a passion to make a difference in our world!

 

All of us at ZOE want to see the ZOE staff, students and children discover their individual talents and by coming over here you make that possible.

 

Phew … It sure was an action-packed 10 days!

 

You cooked our traditional celebratory BBQ, (something that everyone at ZOE LOVES!) taught classes, put on a couple of carnivals, worked tirelessly … the list goes on and on.

 

But from touchdown to takeoff you were good fun to hang out with.

April 25, 2011 - 12 comments

Critical Success Factors: Education

Human traffickers prey on those who are most vulnerable in our society.  Education and awareness training are keys to protecting communities and individuals from human trafficking

Greg – ZOE Director of Child Rescue

 

After rescuing a child from slavery, a significant challenge is equipping that child with not only a quality education but knowledge that will protect them.  One of many consequences of child exploitation and trafficking is that rescued children have had little or no formal schooling.  At ZOE, whether these rescued children are sheltered temporarily or long term (depending on what is best for the child), we are committed to ensure that these children are better educated and informed about human trafficking.

Further, part of ZOE’s holistic strategy in combating human trafficking is not only to rescue children, but also to work with families and communities to increase their resilience to the ploys of trafficking agents.

Here are some examples ZOE’s critical success factors:

  • ZOE Human Trafficking Awareness Program
  • Prevention and Intervention Hotline
  • Community Watch
  • Child Sexual Abuse Training
  • Vocational and Language School Training
  • Economic Alternatives:  Business Training
  • Relief and Aid (Food and Medical Programs)

March 7, 2011 - No Comments!

Sponsor a Child. Change a Life! Guardian Alliance

"At school my society teacher asks many questions and I can answer them. I am a good student"-Bui (ZOE child)

When I think about sponsoring a child I automatically see the images that have been shown on television for years.  I feel guilty sitting comfortably at home, a cold drink in hand, while a child somewhere in the world doesn’t even have clean water to drink much less a dwelling place deserving to be called “home.”

 

The child sponsorship program that ZOE offers is different, so I want to take a moment to explain how we care for children orphaned or rescued from human trafficking.  So right now as you read about ZOE’s child sponsorship program, for just a moment I want you to block out all the images you have seen.

 

At ZOE we are not just caring for children today; we are raising tomorrow’s leaders.  We provide ZOE children every opportunity to develop in every area of their life, so that they will become leaders of their nation.  As more children are rescued from the horrors of human trafficking, they too will get the chance to make a difference in their world.  These children will be the ones to fulfill the vision of ending human trafficking and to show compassion and love to orphans and those whom society marginalizes.

 

Orphaned and rescued children come with nothing but the clothes on their back.  No toy, no book, no underwear -- not even a smile.  Even the clothing they are wearing is usually so filthy and potentially disease ridden that the first thing we do is give them new garments.  I recall one rescue where a little boy’s clothes were such that we had to burn them in the remote mountain village to ensure that nothing contagious came with him to ZOE.  In fact, the only thing he brought from his village was the worst case of intestinal worms imaginable.  The torn and stained rags that once passed for clothes are left behind and transformation begins -- first on the outside, and later within.

 

When ZOE rescues a child we take on the full responsibility of caring for that child’s every need.  ZOE employs staff who have a heart to care for children and who become the mothers and fathers to the children.  ZOE provides food and clothing and medical care.  We provide tuition, school uniforms and transportation so they can attend school, many for the first time in their lives.

 

ZOE is unique among children’s homes.  I have seen firsthand many children’s homes that have a single staff member responsible for 20 to 30 children.  At ZOE, however, we keep our parent-to-child family ratio small.  We believe that the best way for a child to heal from the hurts of the past is to have the love and care of a parent who has time for him or her on an intimate and personal basis.  The benefit of our high quality care is that every child is loved and valued individually, and gets the opportunity to discover their God-given gifts and talents.

 

With the high cost of living in the U.S., 25 dollars per month does not go very far.  Even as a volunteer at the ZOE Children’s Homes living in Thailand, $25 will not get me through the month.  ZOE’s model of care costs more than $25 a month per child.  That is why we align like-minded people who have a heart to care for a child and assign multiple sponsors for each child.  Your $25 combined with that couple’s $75 added with the business that gives $100 a month allows us to do with excellence what needs to be done.

 

There really is no greater contrast than comparing the life a child has in the safety of the ZOE Children’s Homes, to that of begging on the streets, or being sold into human trafficking, or being an orphan with no one to love and care for them.

Sponsoring a child gives a child a hope and a future.

Learn more about ZOE Child Sponsorship Program

February 14, 2011 - 5 comments

Learning to Love and Loving Learning!

Diplomas, awards, speeches and a delicious lunch were the order of the day as five ZOE students graduated from the 6th Grade at the school they attend in northern Thailand.  Greater than the pomp and circumstance however was the assurance that ZOE’s children are not only receiving a good education, but are excelling in their pursuit of scholastic and moral excellence.

 

The school has about 50 students in grades one through six, 31 of whom are ZOE kids.  During the graduation ceremony, awards were given out for achievements in academics and character development.  Students in all grades were eligible for these awards and six of the seven presentations were made to ZOE students, including one of our 6th Grade graduates.

Ten-year-old Pink won an Academic Excellence award.  Pink has been with ZOE for two years and has grown almost a foot taller in that time.  But more importantly, she has grown in her love of studying and learning.

 

Aem was singled out among the school’s students with the Moral Excellence citation.  Only 12, Aem is well-known at ZOE for his integrity and determination to “do it right.”  We discovered his love of music and his natural talent the day he arrived at ZOE when, for the first time in his life, he sat down at a set of drums and in minutes was playing a toe-tapping beat.

 

A second Academic Excellence certificate was presented to 10-year-old Gaan.  No surprise because Gaan is a very intelligent boy.  What may surprise you though, is his well-developed sense of humor!  Quick and witty, Gaan soon has any group, including adults, laughing out loud.  Yet he is known for his tender and caring heart, especially for the little ones at ZOE including his baby sister.

 

Winner of the Most Responsible Student was Kay.  Around ZOE, 12-year-old Kay is considered a thinker.  She is quick to listen and slow to speak, but when she talks, people listen because what she shares is likely to be meaningful.  She is quite proficient at English and very protective of her younger sister.

 

Best Manners commendation was given to Aoy.  At 14, Aoy now graduates from 6th Grade and moves to middle school in May.  She has been with ZOE almost from our beginning and is quiet, respectful, and considered by all as a beloved big sister.

 

Gee was named the Most Helpful Student.  But there is a lot more to his story.  When he came to ZOE he had never been to school.  Students in Thai schools are often placed by ability not age.  Most schools require documentation from the Thai Ministry of Education verifying that a student has completed the previous grade before allowing the child to be placed in the next higher grade.  We enrolled Gee in school with his peers but keeping up was a struggle.  On his own, he approached us and asked that he be sent to a lower grade to help him catch up.  After consulting with school staff, Gee was placed in a lower grade.  At the beginning of the school year, he scored 10 out of 25 on his English proficiency test.  At year’s end, he hit 23 out of 25, earning him the school’s Most Improved in English award as well!  The school teachers and administrators also report that not only has Gee’s English improved exponentially, but so has his attitude and self-esteem.

 

After the ceremony one of the ZOE education team, had a chance to chat with the school’s English teacher.  Khruu (teacher) J and her husband moved to Thailand a year ago to help out with the new school.  Like so many “one year missionaries,” they have decided to stay for a second year.

Khruu J began to cry as she recounted the tremendous progress she has seen in the ZOE kids in just one year.  She was pleased to report that all but one of the most improved students in her class were ZOE students.

She was clearly moved and touched by the opportunity to teach the ZOE children.

 

 

January 7, 2011 - No Comments!

A Toddler Trafficked: Nicha’s Story

One of the brightest, most inquisitive, and energetic children at ZOE Children’s Homes is tiny Nicha.  She is smart, quick witted and is fond of telling everyone she meets, “I go to school!”

Her preschool teacher reports that Nicha is attentive and engaged.  It is hard to believe this is the same girl who the police brought to ZOE as a listless and lethargic toddler.

The city’s shopping and entertainment districts are awash with lights and pedestrian traffic. Shoppers look for bargains while merry-makers fill the streets with music and laughter. The merchants and shopkeepers are delighted with the ring of their cash registers, but these are also lucrative locations for professional begging rings.

Nicha was a part of one such begging ring.

You may well ask the question,

How could a tiny toddler be part of a begging ring?

This is her story:

Nicha was born far from the city lights, in a small and very poor village. Through various circumstances, Nicha became the baby in a “family” of professional beggars.  She was especially ‘valuable’ to the ring and was used as a ‘prop’ by an adult beggar who posed as her mother, in what was exposed as a sinister performance for financial gain.

Each night, the adult beggar found a place to sit with Nicha cradled in her arms. Hearts were filled with pity as strangers looked upon the poor mother and her sickly child.  But, Nicha wasn’t actually sick; rather she was being regularly dosed with a narcotic sedative to make her drowsy, lethargic and compliant.

Some nights the adult beggar would carry her around, looking for people who would give her money.  The mother had her role rehearsed perfectly and with a slow and deliberate shuffle, she would pause just long enough for a passerby to feel both uncomfortable and obliged to “help” her sickly baby.

David Cross, a ZOE volunteer, recalls the time when he met little Nicha.

I remember clearly when Nicha first came to ZOE.  I looked at her in contrast to my youngest son who was similar in age.  At first, I thought to myself, something is not quite right here.  She was incredibly lethargic. She was slow to move and overall she did not look well.  I actually thought that some testing would need to be arranged, as she appeared to have developmental delays.  But, as the days and weeks passed, we all came to realize that there was nothing slow or lethargic about this little girl.  We now know that this was the result of the drugs that were still present in her tiny body.

Now as I walk past her, she comes running up and greets me with her loud voice and huge smile.  I asked her the other day whether she liked going to school, and she promptly started to tell me what she liked, who her friends were and then broke out into song proudly singing the Thai alphabet! It’s clear now that there is no need for any developmental testing!

Nicha is a remarkably bright child with a promising future.  Her life is a testament to what a difference a loving, caring and nurturing environment can make.

 

 

To protect this child’s identity her real name has not been used in this article.

October 16, 2010 - No Comments!

Sponsor a Child With Guardian Alliance

ZOE International Launches Guardian Alliance

Sponsor a Child Rescued From Human Trafficking

When I see children rescued from human trafficking running and laughing throughout the house, I am reminded that ZOE International is aptly named. ZOE in the Greek language means “life" and our children are overflowing with new life and energy. It is a great privilege to see them grow and develop. We have wanted for some time now to share their lives with our supporters. We're calling our new child sponsorship program the Guardian Alliance.

Guardian Alliance Child SponsorshipThe picture of the mighty wings of a defending angel enfolding each of our children was an inspiration.

The packaging is dramatic and beautiful. You can expect to receive quarterly updates and, because you will be joining during the ground level of this new program, you can pride yourself as one of the first to make a direct impact on our rescued children. We are excited to be able to share this opportunity with you all. CLICK HERE for more information or contact ZOE International's U.S. office at 661-255-7963 to start your child sponsorship today.