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Economic Empowerment


A Day in the Life... A Taste of Trujillo - Kim Hodgkiss

A Taste of Trujillo

by Kim Hodgkiss

Four years ago I came to the small coastal community of Trujillo (Tru-HEE-yo), Honduras as a volunteer English teacher. I learned to adapt to the climate, the culture, the food, a new language, a lack of basic services, a myriad of bugs, and many types of isolation. Through it all, God confirmed my calling to share my life and faith with others.

Two years ago I became the director of the residential Training Centre for teenage girls who cannot afford to attend high school. Once a week the students bus in from rural communities outside of Trujillo, travelling from 1-4 hours each way, and stay with us from Monday to Friday. Our two-year program includes vocational training in sewing, including pattern making; cooking, including nutrition and hygiene; computer and business skills, and English. In addition, we teach the Bible and Christian values; many of our girls come to know Jesus personally and grow in their faith during their time with us. It is amazing to see them blossom before our eyes!

Left: Girls at the Training Centre - changed for this life and eternity! 

Right: Teens learn marketable skills and Christian values.

As an added benefit, our graduates receive treadle sewing machines to take home to their villages as a potential source of income. For those who are academically inclined, we offer scholarship. Past grads have helped support themselves through sewing and have gone on to study in careers such as Tourism, Business, or Computer Technology.

Despite our weekly schedule at the Centre, no day is ever the same. Seemingly mundane tasks can take a turn, circumstances change at a moment's notice, and one always has to be ready to bend. I often joke about how daily life in Trujillo is an adventure. As an example, here I outline "A Day in the Life" - what I did yesterday - to give you a taste of Trujillo.

6:00 am

- Throw in a load of laundry even through it is raining and I can't hang it to dry. For the past several weekends we haven't had running water and have no tanks for storage at the house, so i need to take advantage of having both electricity and water at the same time.

6:45 am

- Meet with Juan, our new watchman and groundskeeper. Juan has a passion for yard work and is undertaking a big clean up on our beachfront property as well as regular maintenance at the Centre. He and Berta moved in last month and it is a blessing to have them on the team!

7:15 am

- Breakfast at the Centre, touch base with our housemothers, Rosa and Lidia.

7:45 am

- Share devotional Heb 11:1 "Faith is being sure of what we hope for." Recount the faith of George Mueller, evangelist and orphanage director who cared for over 10,000 orphans in the late 1800s while never asking for support from anyone but God. Also tell the story of the villagers plagued with drought who gathered at the church to plead with God for rain, and only one small boy had the faith to bring an umbrella. Help us Lord to demonstrate our faith as well!

8:15 am

- Teach English class to 2nd years, 1st years continue pattern making and sewing.

9:00 am

- Part way through our class, Cablevision comes to install a new system.

10:00 am

- Search in vain for a spark plug for the weed eater. Pray the old one into action again. Bring Juan gas for the lawnmower. Most of the streets in town are dug up, and mud is flowing in the rain. The construction isn't marked, so I end up circling around and backing up for blocks when the roads end in a chasm or a pile of broken cement.

10:45 am

- Return to the Centre, sign the birthday cards for three of the girls, wrap their gifts of soap, shampoo, lotion, etc.

11:15 am

- Up to the bank - can I make it in time? Nope, not enough time to get through the line.


- Come back for the birthday party - celebrating three who were born this month. For many of our girls it will be the only birthday celebration they have.

Top: Core staff bonding time - back: Rosa, Dilma; front: Lidia, Santiaga, me.

Bottom: Celebrating birthdays on the beach! For most of the girls, this will be their only celebration. 

2:00 pm

- Computer teacher taught extra classes the day before, so we're free to take the cupcakes to the beach (it's still sprinkling off and on). We visit a local restaurant, and the girls squeal with delight on the water slide and enjoy the lounge chairs while the teachers relax around the covered tables.

3:30 pm

- The girls practice their dances while I head back to the bank for the mid month pay. I remember the pharmacy and pick up drops for the dog's eye infection. Prepare the bus fares for this morning.

4:30 pm

- Give English test to the first years while the second years make supper.

5:30 pm

- Enjoy supper of refried beans, grated white cheese, flour tortillas and a slice of avocado. Mmm!

I've come to love the traditional meal of beans and tortillas!

6:00 pm

- Review the dances and select the best ones to perform.

6:30 pm

- Mark the tests and record the grades. Meet with a scholarship student and review her grades too.

7:00 pm

- Youth group - the girls perform three songs.

The girls ministering in dance at the youth group.

9:00 pm

- Arrive home. Give Juan the medicine for the dog, retrieve my laundry, and hang it all indoors over chairs and railings and set the fans to dry it.

9:30 pm

- Prep for tomorrow, and relax!



This is How I Lead - Kathy Bowler

This Is How I Lead is a series on the ZOE Blog.

We love learning from we have asked some good questions of great female leaders across the globe.  We hope it will inspire you in your own leadership!  If you have some questions for these women, post it in the comments section.

This is How I Lead - Kathy Bowler


Who are you? 

I am Kathy Bowler, wife, mother of 2 children, physiotherapist and occupational therapist and director of Children of Blessing Trust.


Where do you minister?  

I live and work in Lilongwe, Malawi in Central Africa.


How long have you worked with vulnerable women?  

I primarily work with vulnerable children, especially those with disabilities.  I have been doing this since 1987, first in Canada, then Mexico, Botswana and now for the past 18 years in Lilongwe, Malawi.  As we work with the children here in Lilongwe, meeting their physical needs, we see many of their families are in distress.  Many of these families are single parent families, most headed by women.  We cannot work with the child in isolation but need to work together with the family in a holistic manner.  This has brought us to the place where we try and assist the families to be self sufficient, providing them with small businesses. We have been helping women on a very small scale for many years but have been scaling this up over the past year.


Using three words, how would you describe your leadership style?  

Passionate, Creative, Hardworking


How do you go about empowering women in your context? 

We want the moms of our children with disabilities to love their children the way they are and to see the potential God has given the child to grow and develop to become all that they can be.  We want the moms (and their families) to be able to thrive and not just survive.  First we model the love and acceptance of Christ to them and to their child with a disability.  We offer them hope for the child’s future.  We offer practical assistance in the form of therapy, education, special services and equipment.  We train the moms through our parent workshops giving them the skills they need to care for their child well.  We come alongside the families through the Child Care Plus Sponsorship providing whatever support the child needs including food packs if needed.  Then we identify those who are still very vulnerable and offer them small businesses.  We supervise and train them to run the business in an effective way, ensuring that there are funds available to continue the business.  We teach them to keep the money in the bank until they have enough to purchase the next set of goods only then taking the profits to spend on their families, thus ensuring sustainability of the business.


Who has been your greatest influence in your development as a leader?  (Dead or Alive) 

Jesus and the Holy Spirit!  I was called to the Mission Field connected to my love for children with disabilities.  It has guided and directed my path over the years.  I truly would not be where I am today if God had not placed his call on my life!


What specific ways have you worked to develop your skills?  

I have tried hard to be flexible and creative in the way that I interact with the families I work with.  I always look for the possibilities not the problems.  My husband has been a great resource to me as well as he is a Community Development Specialist.  His skill set is very different than mine so they compliment each other.


What is the greatest need you see in women around you?  

Hope for their future and for their children with disabilities.


If someone wanted to get involved, what could they do to help? 

We are looking for short or mid or even long term global workers to come alongside us to support the Administrative side of the work here.  We are looking for an Office Manager.  We also need professional help in terms of Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists and Special Education Teachers.


If you had one piece of advice for someone who wanted to do what you do, what would you tell them?  

If God is calling you to come answer the call you will not regret it!  He is faithful to provide all that you need – usually much more than you can even dream or imagine!

Thanks Kathy... you are truly inspiring!

Want to help Kathy and leaders like her around the globe?

Donate Here.



What Difference Empowerment Makes!

ZOE partners with Kim Hodgkiss in Tujillo, Honduras, where she runs a vocational training school and discipleship program for vulnerable young women.  Recently we heard from Kim as she reported on how some of the participants (past and present) are doing.  It is amazing to put names and faces to the incredible work that Kim is involved in.  Here are some highlights!

After a recent visit to a working farm, fifteen year old Nora, who will be graduating from the program this year was inspired saying she would love to do this kind of work in the future.  With her love of animals and the outdoors and her physical strength, she is a natural!  Her classmate Hilda is interested in studying agriculture and animal husbandry.

What a delight it was to see these girls light up as they glimpsed future possibilities!


After graduation, Angelica went on to pursue a three year Hotel and Tourism course.   Through the years she has been making and altering clothes on the sewing machine she received upon her graduation from Kim's program.  This is allowing her to pay for her schooling costs.

One the scholarship students, Sandra, who is studying Small Business Administration is supporting herself with work in a small cafe in the city.  She is essentially managing the cafe: cooking, serving, receiving cash and ordering supplies.  She hopes to use what she is learning to open her own business in the future!

What a difference empowerment makes!  Interested in helping?  Donate HERE.



ZOE Projects visits the Yangon Bakehouse in Myanmar

Late last year ZOE Projects was priveleged to partner with the Yangon Bakehouse in Myanmar.  Working with Broadway Church in Vancouver we were able to outfit a commercial production kitchen that services the retail outlets around the city.  They are also providing food for other businesses in the city.  They produce "cottage food"...cinnamon buns, brownies, sandwiches, salads and even Canadian butter tart bars!  The food is excellent!

The above video is a quick interview with Cavelle Dove, one of the founders of the Yangon Bakehouse.  The goal of the Bakehouse is to provide internships to marginalized women, where they learn marketable skills in the hospitality industry.  To date the Bakehouse has graduated 45 women!  These grads go out to local businesses as fully trained hospitality workers.  A few have gone on to start their own businesses.  Cavelle reports that the graduates earn 6 times what they can earn prior to the program.  6 times!?!  This earning potential means they can provide for their families and create better lives.  What a great investment!



Visiting with Dorcas in Nairobi!

Last month Leanne, who is the Canadian Liaison of ZOE Projects and Rachel from Transformation Textiles got to meet Dorcas who lives in Nairobi, Kenya.  

Leanne, Rachel and Dorcas

We were excited for this meeting because we have been tracking with Dorcas for a few months.  You see...Dorcas is one of our heroes!  

Dorcas is a wife, mum and "high capacity leader" who is absolutely passionate about "seeing other women do well."  She says that many women in her community feel hopeless and she loves to show them who they really are in Christ.  She helps them understand their gifts and encourages them to walk out in them.  That sounds a lot like ZOE! 

Rachel and Dorcas are both business women...they compared notes!

If you have been following ZOE for awhile you will know that in January we began supporting Dorcas with her Masters of Education at Pan Africa Christian University.  One of our favourite things is that Dorcas shares what she is learning with the women she our investment is being multiplied.

One of the needs she expressed was for curriculum...hmmm...that is something we may be able to help with through ZOE Leadership!

If you want to give to support other women in the developing world with their education...

click here.

Too old to swing? Never.

Check out this quick video interview!



Look at who ZOE is partnered with in Chennai, India!

Since launching ZOE Projects about 18 months ago...we are often asked, "What exactly is ZOE Projects?" 

ZOE Projects is an exciting new initiative of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada International Mission.  We see ourselves as a bridge and work hard to connect Canadians, districts and churches with the work that our P.A.O.C Global workers and national partners are doing with reaching, equipping and caring for women around the globe.  We tell the “story” of our partners through our website and social media and then provide tangible ways for Canadians to partner strategically.  

ZOE is a Greek word meaning “absolute fullness of life, life which belongs to God, life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, to last forever.”  It refers to the life that God himself lives.  While we respond to physical and social needs, we are motivated by the desire to reach women in order to meet their spiritual needs as well…helping women see their value as image bearers of Christ, inviting them into the life they were created for.  

Over the next few weeks we are launching our very first national campaign...with a direct mail out, Testimony article and Social Media blitz.  We want everyone to know the heart and passion of ZOE!

During the campaign we will be concentrating on 3 specific projects to raise awareness of and funds for.  Today we want to tell you about one of these projects.

Sarah and Christo Emmanuel

This is Sarah Emmanuel with her husband Christo.  We are big fans of Sarah and she is a good friend of ZOE. 

Sarah and Christo planted Living God Church in Chennai, India in 2006.  They have been strategically reaching out to the needs of women in their community. Through “Life Centres”, they provide women with access to education, skills training and much needed resources. It is here that women learn marketable skills that can lead to greater opportunities for income generating.

Women are often heavily restricted from empowerment BECAUSE they have children and so Sarah provides childcare for these women, essentially removing an often-insurmountable obstacle for women that desire to move their family out of the cycle of poverty.

Life Centres also function as a hub for evangelistic outreaches and discipleship where the Gospel of Christ is shared and received!

This is the heart of Sarah…that women would know their value and purpose and ultimately come to know Jesus!

As this program continues to grow and attract more women in the community, Sarah finds herself limited in space to continue to develop the program. We want to help by the funds to expand their facility.  This would facilitate this program's continued growth and impact in the community.

Give generously to this need!



If you like ZOE Projects, you will love what Broadway Church is up to!

We had a pretty amazing connection point with Broadway Church last Spring.  Broadway Church is a thriving church in the city of Vancouver.  You can check more about their passion for the city here.

They reach out strategically in a variety of ways both locally and internationally.  We love their heart for people.

They were aware of ZOE Projects and wanted to take on a crazy vision goal to support women internationally.  (We love crazy goals!)

In November Broadway Church will be taking on 2 exciting projects...

You can see more here...

Broadway Church Video

But here it is in a nutshell...

Project #1 - Yangon Bakehouse - Myanmar

Storefront of Yangon Bakehouse

The Yangon Bakehouse is located in Myanmar.  The Bakehouse is a 10 month skills training program for women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many have been in prison or have worked in the sex-trade. They are also in debt, and paying up to 40% interest on small loans of less than $100 which they take out to survive. In the nurturing environment of the Bakehouse, women learn hospitality skills that can translate into a good job upon graduation.  Besides hospitality they are taught basic kitchen skills, hygiene, English, reproductive health, self- esteem and financial skills.  The Yangon Bakehouse needs equipment to set up another kitchen and Broadway church is going to meet this need.  Their goal this November is $12000.

Project #2 - Ministry Training Centre - Trujillo, Honduras

Student in Trujillo

Kim Hodgkiss in director of a discipleship training centre for teen girls at risk. (Check more out here.) Kim, with her team, teach these girls practical skills so that they are employable when they graduate from high school.  Kim purchases sewing machines to gift each girl as they graduate.  Broadway Church want to help!  Their goal is to buy sewing machines for the Training centre to the tune of $8000.

Inspiring much?

Sometimes hearing big goals can leave us, not inspired, but overwhelmed...thinking, but what can I do?  Maybe the question is more...

What can We do?  There is something pretty powerful about joining forces with others to make something bigger happen.  Who is around you (in your church/small group/book club/rowing team)?  How can you help mobilize them to help vulnerable women around the globe?

Want to donate?  Here is how!

Donate to ZOE Projects



Women you should know - Ashley and SreyRohm

In my travels I often meet "women you should know"...and I recently met a couple more!

Ashley and SreyRohm

Ashley McCarthy left Ontario to move to Cambodia ten months ago with her husband Chad and their four kids...all under the age of 6 (yes, you read that right).  Ashley and Chad felt a burden to minister to the Khmer people.  Initially living in Phnom Penh to study language and culture while building relationship, Ashley and Chad have certainly thrown themselves into the metaphorical deep end.

Chad and Ashley with their kids...

We spent the day with Ashley and Chad recently and they took us to see the Teen Challenge women's centre in the outskirts of the city.  You can watch a brief interview here:

Leanne talks with Ashley McCarthy

We also were welcomed into the home of good friends of the McCarthys,  Abraham and SreyRohm.

Ashley and SreyRohm initially met over language learning, as SreyRohm's husband Abraham was the McCarthy's language teacher...but the two women soon discovered that they had so much in common, both young mums, raising little ones.  SreyRohm wanted to learn how to sew and Ashley shared her skills, helping to locate a much needed sewing machine.  The women began to spend afternoons together creating patterns and experimenting with techniques.  As SreyRohm began to create little girl's dresses, jewelry and leather goods, Ashley helped market the products, including selling some to friends back home in Canada.  SreyRohm's skills are proving to be valuable as she helps support her family.  Ashley is quick to point out however the the friendship that they are building is reciprocal.  Ashley is learning Khmer and they often talk "woman to woman".  Ashley feels blessed to have found such a good friend in her first year in a new home.

Completed Sewing Projects

I find their friendship so beautiful...and I am reminded that women will always find bridges to each other: bridges that cross language and culture because we share the common experience of endeavoring to live well, loving our families and communities!

How about you?  How are you building bridges with women in your community?  You might be surprised by the richness these relationships hold.  ZOE Projects encourages you to step outside your comfort zone and see who God would bring into your life!



Wow...look what can happen!

Kathy with husband Steve and daughters Alisa and Amy

At the end of February we told you about Kathy Bowler, one of our project partners living and serving in Malawi.  As an Occupational Therapist, Kathy works with the families of children with special needs.  Kathy told us that the mums of these kids bear the weight of caring for and providing for their families. 

Seeing the need for flexible work for these mums, Kathy proposed that we help her start a crochet business. 

ZOE Projects challenged Canadians to give the $3000 of seed money needed for Kathy to get started.  We are happy to report that 8 weeks later we are transferring this money to her.  (And there is more to come...a group of women meeting in Ontario this weekend are raising money for Kathy...)

I got to share the news with Kathy this morning and here is what she said:

"This is wonderful news.  It will mean so much to the women!  It will help them to find ways to support their own family and to ensure that their children have the things that they need. As a mother I cannot even imagine how it feels to see your children go to bed hungry or sick and not be able to help them.  The funding that you are sending will help a group of women get the things they need to start a business so that they can provide for their families!  Hope for the future!  Thanks so much!"

Go Kathy!  We are cheering you on!!!

Our next project is just around the corner...stay tuned...




Interview with Kathy Bowler

Leanne McAlister and Kathy Bowler

Monday morning I had the privilege of hanging out with Kathy Bowler at the Vancouver International Airport before she boarded a flight back to Malawi.  (Our super awesome double-selfie is above.)  Kathy is one of our partners on a current ZOE Project which is working to support mums of children of special needs Malawi.  I decided to record part of our conversation so that you can listen in.  You will certainly hear Kathy's heart for the work that she does...

Kathy's Introduction:

(notice the snow...and the car going through the drive-through...because we are classy like that!)

Kathy's Interview:

- (Cut and paste this address into a browser...we are still working on some tech stuff.  :))

Be Inspired and let God move your heart!

 - Leanne