Zara’s Center was founded in 2007 to respond to an increase in children orphaned due to AIDS and the deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe.
As of 2019, life remains difficult for low-income, vulnerable, and orphaned children. The country is ranked 107th out of 119 developing countries on the Global Hunger Index. 13.5% of adults have HIV/AIDS, placing Zimbabwe in the top ten most HIV/AIDS impacted countries in the world. [CIA Fact Book] As a result, the country has one of the world's largest orphan populations. [UNICEF]
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.
Zara's is poised to grow further in its second decade of service, having recently (in January 2018) leased an additional five acres of land on which to begin a new agriculture program. The program will make the Center more sustainable and teach children valuable skills they can use upon graduation from Zara’s programs.
Click here to learn more about Zara's programs.