A Mesquite native is doing something good on the other side of the world and she's calling on North Texans with a giving heart to help further her mission.
Tiffany Kavuma moved to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, four years ago from DFW after starting a new life with her husband, Ashiram.
“Uganda is full of the most beautiful people. The hospitality is something that I’ve never experienced anywhere in the world," she said. "It’s really about community."
Despite the culture shock, she fell in love with the people and eventually found a new calling.
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Kavuma said it is common in that part of the world for young and teen women who become pregnant to be kicked out of their homes and left on the streets.
“I started to see a lot of news articles and news segments about teenage pregnancy. Every time I would listen to these news segments, my heart would break. And I would become burdened," she said. “The more I listened to it the more I knew I had to do something."
Her inspiration for change came from a chance meeting with a homeless mother and infant she found crying on the side of a road.
“She had nowhere to go to, nowhere to turn to and it was starting to rain. She was just scared. She was just crying and praying and hoping that someone help her," Kavuma recalls. “I think there’s a million things she probably could’ve asked us for. She might could’ve just asked for money. But the health of her baby was her number one priority and so she asked us, 'Can you take my baby to the clinic?'"
Kavuma and her husband did that. They stayed with the young woman through the entire process as her baby spent a few days in the hospital for an infection.
"That night she went from hopeless to hope. And I started thinking, 'what other mothers out there are also wanting some hope to hold onto?'” she said. “I sat there and I thought, 'I have a choice. I can either sit on the sidelines or I can do something.' And I chose to do something.”
Kavuma took that act of kindness for a stranger a step further.
A year ago, she created The Zoe House, a nonprofit that helps young and homeless mothers achieve their dreams through skill training, mentorship and life-saving medical care. They also work to eventually reunite mothers with their families.
“I knew that was what The Zoe House was going to become, a place of refuge for these teen mothers here in Uganda that sometimes don’t have anybody to turn to or a place to go," Kavuma said. "The word 'Zoe' is really powerful, it actually means 'life.' So we really want to live out that meaning of our organization by celebrating life and loving these mothers back to life."
The Zoe House blossomed throughout the pandemic, serving as a sanctuary for mothers.
“When they come into The Zoe House some of the mothers are despondent. Life has been really hard on them. Some have been abused and kicked out of their homes by their family. Many are kicked out of school," Kavuma said.
A big component of The Zoe House includes giving the mothers life-changing skills courses to become entrepreneurs in baking or hairdressing. In Uganda, jobs can be hard to come by.
“If you want to succeed, you often have to start your own business and build your own business. Many people have individual businesses that are used to sustain their family and create an income for them. So that’s what we focus a lot on, is skill training. A lot of these mothers haven’t finished school so skill training really is the best option for them," Kavuma explained.
“We had one of our mothers come back to us this semester and share exciting news that she’s baking her own product and selling it. From the income that she’s making, she’s able to save it in a local savings bank and she's looking forward to making an investment into her future," she added.
Kavuma has big needs and goals to meet this Christmas. So she's fundraising virtually and calling out to her Texas roots to help make a difference in this world.
“Our mothers simply want a better future for their children and that’s a hope that mothers all around the world can relate to," she said. "We want them to know that they are seen. That they are valued and loved. And that we are a family at The Zoe House."
The money will go toward materials they need for the training courses, the house where clients gather, supplies to sustain the mothers, and an entrepreneur starter kit to give the mothers once they graduate from the program. The Zoe House also employs a small staff to keep the services flowing.
If you would like to help Kavuma's mission for The Zoe House, click here.
You can also contact The Zoe House by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.