Episode 042

Jacqueline Villeneuve

Giving the Gift of Hope

November 24, 2018

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Episode Overview

“Don’t give up, remind yourself to continue seeing the positives, and remind others that there is hope.” – Jacqueline Villeneuve

What does it take to be the change you want to see in the world? How can one person change the fate of many and leave a legacy for others to follow? Well, to accomplish any of these, one must start with the most basic of human capacities – LOVE.

Jacqueline Villeneuve is the Founder and Director of Operations at Zawadi la Tumaini Hope Homes.  She has 
dedicated her life to support, educate, and empower young African women and orphan children. Her journey began when she first flew to Kenya as a volunteer with Free the Children when she was 15 years old. She was there with 26 other youth to build a one-classroom schoolhouse.

That trip was all it took for her to realize what she wanted to do in the future. After graduating high school, she then proceeded to work at a coffee shop to earn enough to go back to Africa. She started ZLT at 17 and opened the children’s home by 19.

She named the children’s home ‘Zawadi la Tumaini’, which translates to ‘Gift of Hope.’ She wanted to give vulnerable orphan children the hope of a new beginning – a safe haven.

Unlike larger NGOs, ZLT doesn’t measure their organization’s success by the number of children they support.  Their focus lies in providing quality care and education for their children. Jacqueline and her team invest their time and attention to help the children cope and heal from past trauma. They currently have 25 children in their care.

But running a children’s home comes with its challenges – from sleepless nights to the overwhelming surge of emotions that comes with raising 20+ children. Jacqueline also always worries that they may not receive sufficient donations and funding to support the children.  But she says that what keeps her going is all the good they’ve done so far.
To help make the home more self-sustaining Jacqueline created an ethical fashion brand called ‘Olive & Annie‘.  The brand was named after 2 of the children at ZLT.  Olive & Annie products are 100% made by Kenyan artisans and female designers. 
In addition to funding the children’s home, their products support campaigns and organizations focused on women’s rights, child protection, and ending sexual violence. They’ve even collaborated with Mpumi Nobiva to create the ‘Amandla’ necklace to support Mpumi’s Share Your Story Africa campaign. 
Despite Jacqueline and her team’s dedication, most of their funding still comes from donations. Please visit ZLTHope.Org to find out how you can help Jacqueline and her team make a difference in a child’s life.  
In 2017 Jacqueline also founded ‘She Matters‘ inspired by her own story of being a survivor of sexual violence.  The organization  provides emotional and legal support and advocacy.  They are also developing  sensitivity training for health care providers.

what you’ll learn in this episode

  • How a trip to Kenya when she was 15 years old changed the trajectory of Jacqueline’s life
  • Why she started Zawadi la Tumaini Hope Home
  • How Jacqueline deals with the emotional pressure and stress of running an orphanage
  • The greatest challenge that Jacqueline faces with running ZLT
  • Why she created the ethical fashion brand ‘Olive & Annie’
  • What Jacqueline’s hope is for the future and for her ZLT family
  • Why she founded ‘She Matters’
  • What Jacqueline’s “I am…” is


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