As we end 2019, we can’t help but reflect on the major milestones at The Zoe House. In only 3.5 months, we’ve witnessed incredible growth and resilience in both our hairdressing and baking classes and are constantly amazed by these young mothers who are willing to do whatever it takes to create the best future for their families. Whether you’ve just joined us on this journey or you’ve been here since day one, we are forever grateful for your constant support and encouragement.
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Four Babies Born
We are adamant about creating a culture of celebration at The Zoe House. Many of our young mothers have experienced rejection and condemnation and we want them to know that we celebrate their bravery for carrying through with their pregnancies even while facing harsh criticism.
This year at The Zoe House we’ve celebrated the births of four beautiful, healthy babies – two of them arriving during our holiday break! Thanks to your clothing donations, we are able to gift each new mom with a small assortment of baby clothes as we cut the cake and rejoice in welcoming a new life into this world. This is also the perfect time to have our baking class come together to practice baking cakes for special occasions.
Two Babies Lost
We wish we only had positive, uplifting stories to share, but that’s not the reality of life. We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn and often we find ourselves doing both on the same day. Only a few hours after celebrating a new life during a baby shower, we received the news that one of our mammas from our hairdressing program had lost her baby. We found out that she sat overnight on a wooden bench in a hospital without any assistance. Hearing this news wrecked us and our team sprang into action, got to the hospital as soon as they could, and transferred her to a different medical facility to get the care she urgently needed. You can read more about the story here. Another one of our mother’s confessed she had found out she was pregnant with a second child and she took pills to end her pregnancy because her boyfriend threatened to leave her if she did not abort the child. When she shared this information with us, we immediately wanted to take her to a doctor to understand if the pills she consumed did impact the pregnancy. Sadly, the doctor informed us that the abortion was complete and there was no longer a baby in the womb. We don’t want to share the stories of loss, grief, and pain, but The Zoe House exists to be in the trenches with our moms in all circumstances. We want these mothers to know – without a doubt – that The Zoe House is with them.
We are deeply impressed with the progress our girls have made in both the hairdressing and baking programs. Our hairdressing team has learned how to make weave, plait box braids, cornrows, shampoo hair, set hair, and blowdry it. Our hairdressing instructor determined it was time to work on external customers at The Zoe House so that the girls could receive applicable feedback. With excitement (and some fear) the girls ventured out in groups to find customers in the community who would allow the girls to practice on them. We had the girls practice a small script to share with each person they approached and the response was incredible!
While we are on break for the Christmas holiday, we have found short internships for the girls in local salons to further practice their skills. During the holiday season, there’s an influx in people wanting to get their hair styled and the salon owners openly welcomed our girls into their program for two weeks to get more hands-on experience. These connections and learnings will help them transition from our program to the workforce in March equipped and confident.
Take a look at our girls visiting the community, working on their first client from the community, and getting placed in local internships during the holiday season.
Selling Cakes and Cookies
One of our girls was able to bake and sell a cake for Uganda’s Independence Day. She told us that her cousin did not believe she was the one who baked the cake that she brought from The Zoe House. Even after convincing him, she made the cake, he still could not believe it and gave her a small amount of money to buy ingredients to bake a cake right in front of him. After she proved her baking skills, her family gave her a small amount of money to compensate her for the cake that he then used to celebrate Independence Day in Uganda.
One of our other girls also baked cookies and distributed them to her neighbors. The neighbors have started asking the girl’s mom to teach them to make cookies too! We may never know the true impact The Zoe House has, but it’s our desire that what the girls learn and experience at The Zoe House will go on to impact generations to come.
Our baking instructor normally has the girls bake in groups but last month, she began having the girls bake individually so that they can gain confidence in their abilities. The mammas were so overjoyed to know they were capable of baking a cake without any help from their peers or instructor. Our accountant also ordered a cake for his church meeting and the girls baked their first commercial cake! On this particular day, our instructor was with Mamma S (mentioned earlier) to do further testing so the girls baked this cake on their own with little assistance from their teacher. It is an incredibly powerful moment when you see girls who didn’t know how to bake a single item working collectively to sell their first cake! Our girls are beginning to see their hard work pay off – literally!
Learning Life Skills
In addition to skill training, we spend each morning sharing in a devotional and learning a life skill. We’ve covered topics ranging from healthy boundaries to self-esteem, aiming to talk about subjects that are relevant to what our young mothers are facing. We discuss how being brought up by imperfect parents, society and systems can cause us pain and brokenness and how these factors sometimes subconsciously affect our behavior and relationships with other people. After each class session, the girls share what they’ve learned that day whether in their life skills lesson or practical skill session. Our mammas were inspired to create a mantra after their self-esteem lessons and we love hearing them chant these lines in class, letting the words sink into their hearts.
“I accept that I am special, unique and of great value, dignity and purpose, fearfully, and wonderfully made in the image of God.”
These are beautiful moments when we see the girls begin to blossom and accept that they are treasured and loved beyond measure.
Our hearts overflow with gratitude for every single person who has prayed, donated, shared, and shown an interest in The Zoe House. Together, we are empowering young mothers in Uganda to reach their dreams.