Zara’s Center was founded in 2007 to respond to an increase in children being orphaned due to AIDS and the deteriorating economic and political situation in Zimbabwe. Since then, the situation in Zimbabwe continues to make life difficult for low-income, at-risk, children.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a renewed economic crisis due to a shortage of foreign exchange, high inflation, low manufacturing production, and high unemployment. The economic situation worsened further due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which an additional 1.3 million people fell into “extreme poverty,” for a total of 49% of the population considered extremely poor as of early 2021.  While the HIV/AIDS crisis has improved over the past decade, Zimbabwe still has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world, with 12.8% of adults living with HIV/AIDS as of 2020. 
Since its inception in 2007, Zara’s has grown from a small organization operating out of a church, to a stand-alone Center for over 125 children aged 5-18.
Sixty-six percent of Zara's children have lost at least one parent, most to HIV/AIDS-related complications, and over half of Zara's children live with extended family members. At home, many children sleep on the floor and lack electricity or running water. Caregivers are mostly unemployed due to job scarcity and cannot afford food. Zara's staff visits every child's home periodically to assess the family's circumstances and discuss the child's well-being.
Today, Zara’s provides daily meals, academic enrichment, medical care, work training, recreation, and artistic development. The Center’s guiding goal is that Zara’s children will grow up to be agents for positive change in their country. Children come to Zara’s Center for a good meal, help with homework, health & wellness intervention, and structured activities in a safe place.
We have recently broken ground on a new agriculture program which will teach our children to grow their own food and to raise chickens. The program will help Zara’s become more sustainable - both in terms of the welfare of the children and by creating an earned income stream for the Center.
Click here to learn more about Zara's programs.