ZOE (a Greek word meaning “life”) was founded in the United States as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization in 2002 by Michael and Carol Hart. The Harts founded ZOE International in response to their commitment to share the Gospel with those who had not heard and their passion to rescue orphans and other vulnerable children from human trafficking. The Harts sold their custom home and most of their possessions; set up headquarters in Santa Clarita, California; and moved to Thailand where the problem of human trafficking was steadily growing.
In 2003, ZOE International Foundation began in Thailand with 47 at-risk children and has since been granted legal status by the government of Thailand, enabling the foundation to own and operate ZOE Children’s Homes. ZOE Foundation Australia was established as a not-for-profit in 2011. In 2017, ZOE was granted not-for-profit status by both the government of Mexico and Japan.
ZOE is active in the fight against human trafficking working with both national and local governments, partnering with international and local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and assisting law enforcement in each of the countries where ZOE operates.
In 2010, ZOE built a 40,000 square foot facility in Thailand, increasing its capacity to accommodate up to 250 children; built and opened a 60-bed, 8,060 square foot boys’ shelter in 2013; and completed work on its new $1.2 million Child Rescue Center in 2017.
ZOE also operates a 2-year, live-in leadership school for young adults with a focus on developing indigenous leaders, child advocates and evangelists. Students are trained in leadership, bible-based instruction, vocational skills, language classes, and business skills.
ZOE has partnered with the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons through a 3-year, $500,000 grant for ZOE’s Enhanced Victim Protection Services program that has enabled ZOE to develop and implement a robust vocational program that prepares children for success in their areas of career interest and which has been cited by State Department inspectors as among the best they have seen. In addition, grant funds have been used to provide expert training for childcare providers at ZOE as well as 60 other agencies in a variety of subject areas.
In Thailand ZOE has an active self-sustainability program on our 35-acre campus including organic crop production, organic animal husbandry, a fish farm, and water conservation.
ZOE’s campus in Thailand has over 120,000 square feet of buildings, a state of the art rescue center. ZOE is building a campus in the USA, and continues to expand operations in Australia, Japan, and Mexico.
ZOE has rescued and restored the lives of hundreds of children and led thousands of people to Christ.