The Tree of Life Trust derives its name from the home-grown Tree of Life process which was developed in 2002, initially to empower Zimbabwean youth to build resilience and better community relationships.
While in South Africa in 2003, the founder of the process participated in the June 26 UN day in Commemoration of Victims of Torture march. She was touched by the plight of the Zimbabwean activists living in exile and was moved to support them in overcoming their trauma. It was at this point that the Tree of Life workshop was adapted as a healing and empowerment tool to help victims of violence and torture. With support from friends in South Africa, the very first trauma healing and empowerment workshops were held, with a few Zimbabwean facilitators being trained. The South African Tree of Life team were able to partner with several NGO’s who helped to keep the healing workshops going through to 2008.
In 2004 the process was brought back to Zimbabwe, to help survivors of violence who were still living in Zimbabwe. Between 2004 and 2008 sporadic healing workshops were held as and when funding could be found, mostly through a network of friends both locally and internationally. A handful of facilitators were trained. As an urgent response to the insurgence of violence during the 2008 June Election re-run, the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) were given pilot funding to set up the Tree of Life project, to roll out healing workshops for torture victims. Very swiftly, the Tree of Life Zimbabwe, as a project, grew into a large programme, and in 2010 the autonomous Tree of Life Trust was born.