I have always dreamed of going to Africa and working with the orphans. It is something that has lingered in my mind for some time. This summer my dream came true.

On June 23rd I boarded a plane with six others to London. Flew all night and boarded another plane which took us into Nairobi, Kenya. A journey of a lifetime had just begun.

Our mission – The ZOE Orphan Empowerment Program in Maua, Kenya.  As I reflect on my trip so many words come to my mind- faith, strength, courage, blessed, family, community, love, and amazing.

The ZOE program is like no other and to have to opportunity to work with this incredible organization and the orphans it empowers was so amazing.

First, let me talk about the staff in Maua. They are the most welcoming group of people. Reegan, who leads this office, is one of the most spiritual and committed humans I have ever met. The passion he has for this program is written all over his face and when he speaks of ZOE you are so in tune to every word that comes out of his mouth. As far as the rest of his staff- greatness! They too show compassion and kindness to all. It takes a very special person to do their job each day and believe me this staff is special!

When I saw our Glory working group for the first time I was speechless. We were greeted with songs, dancing and smiles from ear to ear. As soon as I met them my heart melted and I knew I would be changed forever. These children who have endured more than any human should have to showed such faith and strength. The support they showed one another was unbelievable. You could see a community that had been built on trust in God and the love for God.  This is all because of ZOE.

I loved hearing about each orphans dream and plan for his/her life ahead. So many already had a successful business.  Others were in training or back in school. The message that was repeated over and over was the goal each had to support their younger siblings. I kept thinking about my own 11 year old daughter and how many of these children were her age when they lost their parents and then had to become a parent. There was no time to be a child and enjoy their youth. This was all taken away in an instant. As I continued to watch and listen I was in awe. These are just children and look at what they have accomplished and what good things are in store for them. Again, this is all because of ZOE.

My time in Maua is one in which I will never forget. New friends were made and relationships formed. Before I left the Glory working group I told them that they had touched my heart forever. Now that I am back home I think of them often and know that my work in not complete. I have only just begun. I will return to Maua some day and for now I will continue to spread the word about this wonderful program called ZOE.

- D’Anna Hebert

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