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“My purpose is to give them human dignity”

April 9th, 2015 | Posted by | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Addis Ababa | Ethiopia | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog

Teddy is a Social Worker serving with LIA Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. Teddy has been with LIA for over five years, serving and training the poorest of the poor in the leprosy community of Korah. His goal is to empower them to live full lives with dignity and love.

News Release: LIA Ethiopia Wins Top Award

January 15th, 2015 | Posted by | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Addis Ababa | Home Page | Children | Ethiopia | Home Page | Micro-Enterprise | Uncategorized

For Immediate Release
Life in Abundance Wins Top Recognition for OVC in Ethiopia

On January 15, 2015, Dr. Florence Muindi announced that Life In Abundance International (LIA) was awarded Ethiopia’s 2014 first prize for the empowerment of orphans and vulnerable children.

The Arada Street Children Project was established in March 2012; designed to improve the living conditions of 150 at-risk children and their caretakers, as well as 50 “hard core” or homeless street children. Through an integrated, community-based, preventive and rehabilitative program, an environment that supported physical, social, emotional and spiritual development was created.

As an organic result of the program “Zoe” Saving and Credit Association was established by caretakers of at-risk children to develop healthy savings habits and improve access to banking services. Families took positive steps towards self-reliance and economic empowerment.

The target community was frequently engaged through intensive childcare and family life seminars as well as through home visit micro-enterprise trainings. From this foundation, associations similar to the Zoe Saving and Credit Association were established in June 2013 with their own locally defined directives and guidelines.

Through continued education on savings and business practices, and hard work, many members of the Zoe Association were able to raise 20 birr (~1 USD) in monthly contributions, which is a significant sum in this context. The association began increasing their giving as a result of income generating activities funded by the revolving pool and collected a total of 142,367 birr (7,118.35 USD). Across the various capitals of associations, 357,367 birr (17,868.35 USD) has been accumulated and used to stimulate home and community income generating activities.

The Addis Credit and Saving Institution similarly engaged hard-core street children. Hard core children are trained to develop healthy savings habits and income generating skill sets. To date the association has supported the establishment of bakeries, leather workshops, automobile maintenance centers, and other small businesses started by street children. A social worker facilitates the mentoring of these young people whose lives are being radically transformed. The results from this particular association caught the eye of the government of Ethiopia.

Among other, much larger and well-known non-profits and NGOs LIA Ethiopia was recognized as the top organization for empowerment of orphans and vulnerable children, and for outstanding achievement in the NGO sector in Addis Ababa.

Said, Dr. Muindi, “We are so grateful for this recognition. Ethiopia is where God gave birth to Life in Abundance. While we work for His approval and glory, this award is a testimony to His goodness and favor.”

LIA has been addressing the diverse causes of poverty in most difficult places in Africa and beyond since 1993. Over the past two of decades LIA has expanded to serve nine countries.

LIA is currently implementing more than 36 community development programs serving more than 150,000 people in partnership with community churches. By mobilizing the local church to restore hope, renew hope and inspire lasting transformation for their communities, LIA is assisting locals to identify and address their own needs with local resources.

Transformation in Ethiopia

October 23rd, 2014 | Posted by | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Addis Ababa | Home Page | Children | Ethiopia | Home Page | Health | Home Page | Leadership | Home Page | Water and sanitation


LIA has worked in Ethiopia for well over a decade, and has implemented Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs throughout the country. These programs are critical in the nation where just under half of the population has access to an improved water supply, and only 21% of the population has access to adequate sanitation services*. LIA WASH programs in the capital of Addis Ababa have served upwards of 40,000 individuals with more than 40 public water points, 15 public showers, 10 washing basins, and 33 communal latrines. To date, more than 7,000 people have been trained on safe personal and hygiene practices, and 150 disadvantaged women have been empowered through garbage transportation trolleys which they use as small businesses. This is a brief look into how  LIA’s two most recent WASH projects have restored dignity and sparked transformational development in the communities.

In 2010 the Ethiopian government had planned to demolish the settlements in the slum, sub-city of Kirkos, which rested in the shadow of the massive Addis Sheraton Hotel, in order to begin various construction projects for the city. This was the same year that LIA planned to begin a WASH program in order to improved the community’s access to safe water and adequate sanitation facilities.  All construction was restricted by local authorities at that time, but LIA received special permission from the local government to begin building water points and sanitation stations with the warning that all of the work may be bulldozed in months.

By God’s grace, over four years later, we have seen more than 100 households in the area gain access to clean water, latrines and showers and LIA has been able to phase out while the community sustains the WASH program and facilities. Before the LIA partnership, most residents would retrieve their water in the nearby river, which was awash with sewage and garbage from upstream. But thankfully, this project has greatly reduced the risk of communicable diseases in the Kirkos community.

Yohanes, former chairman of the community organization charged with overseeing the WASH program, explained that the facilitates were initially only available to those in the immediate neighborhood. Each household pays 10 cents for every use, and these funds are used to pay for cleaning and maintenance of the facilities, with overflow being invested into a community revolving fund for economic empowerment purposes. The community oversight committee, now chaired by Samuel, is currently working on installing water heaters for the showers. While all of this has benefited Kirkos, the committee felt it was important to open up the facility to the wider community, especially street children, and they have found ways to support those unable to pay.

The WASH facility supplies clean drinking water for the community, in addition to making the urban environment much more hygienic with the installations of latrines and absence of open sewers and disposable waste, for multiple families .

One of those families is that of Adinew Zeru, a 97 year-old man who greets you with a firm handshake but struggles with disabilities that serve as reminders of the many wars he has endured. Born in a sleepy town in southern Ethiopia called Negele Borena, Adinew and his family were forced to flee their beloved homeland when the town and surrounding areas became hotbeds of conflict during the Ogaden War (or the Ethiopian-Somali War) in the late 1970’s. They sought out IDP government housing in Addis Ababa, but it was not enough for him, his wife, and their six children, so some of their children were placed in the care of friends and family around the city.

20080423 Ethiopia_0358

In 1998 the Eritrean-Ethiopian war invaded the lives of the Zeru Family, as their oldest son was recruited and sent to the North to fight. After a year they were unable to reach him, and soon learned that he had been shot during his time of service and was receiving medical care. Soon after he contracted bone cancer and passed away, the shock of which took a great toll on Adinew. Mr. Zeru suffered serious nerve damage which greatly crippled him. Because there was no bathroom in his government issued home, and no public restrooms nearby, Adinew had to use the restroom in his home and have one of his younger children sneak out at night to dispose of it.

“This was a great shame for me” confessed Adinew. “Our neighbours would look down on us, and my children would be embarrassed.”

When LIA first partnered with the Kirkos community and identified public bathrooms and waste management as a serious need within that community, it became apparent that handicap accessible bathroom stalls were sorely needed. This has helped restore honor and self-worth to Adinew, his family, and many others living in or around the community that are disabled and have been ostracized due to lack of access to the proper facilities.

“As silly as it may sound, I genuinely thank God every time I use that facility, because now I finally have dignity. We lived in shame for far too long.”

Now Adinew, his family, and hundreds of others like them, will never have to deal with that shame that they bore before because their community has taken ownership of a successful and sustainable WASH program.

LIA phased out of Kirkos at the end of 2012, delegating responsibilities to trained and empowered community members and the oversight committee. Since then, the opportunity to work with The Leprosy Mission on a WASH program in the Kolfe Keranyo Slum Community presented itself, and the construction of communal latrines, public shower blocks, communal water points, school latrines and waste water disposal ditches was soon under way. This project is aimed at serving a largely isolated community of lepers and their families, and ultimately an estimated 20,000 people will benefit from this integrated livelihood and slum development project. We look forward to telling stories of transformation from this newer WASH program in the near future!

*Source water.org


July 8th, 2013 | Posted by | Home Page | Children | Ethiopia | Home Page | Health | Home Page | Horn of Africa


During the holiday season last year, LIA committed to restoring life with our church partners through an orphan and vulnerable children program in Ethiopia and relief health services in the Horn of Africa.

We wanted to take a moment to update you on the progress so far – transformation is already taking root and lives are being changed in a sustainable way.

Horn of Africa

Because of your commitment, LIA has:

  • Provided $75,000 worth of food and shelter to 8,500 people in a refugee camp in the Horn of Africa
  • Continued the establishment of the orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) program in that refugee camp to meet the needs of those families for the long-term
  • Worked with local church partners to identify and enroll 200 youth in our new OVC program in Arada, Ethiopia
  • Provided shelter and necessary living supplies to 50 of those children who had no where else to live
  • Paid school, book and educational materials fees for the other 150 children so that they may continue their education
  • Helped the families of the 150 at-risk youth start a savings and credit cooperative

Despite this tremendous progress, there is still much work to be done. Thank you for walking alongside LIA and its church partners to restore life. It truly would not be possible without your support.

Arada OVC program

Guest Post: Giving a Birthday Away

June 5th, 2013 | Posted by | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Addis Ababa | Home Page | Children | Ethiopia | Home Page | General | Home Page | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Jimma | LIA News | Home Page | Pray | Home Page | Serve

Kevin Selders, a LIA supporter and member of Cedar Ridge Christian Church in Kansas, wrote this great post about donating his birthday so that the people LIA serves can celebrate their next birthday. Thank you, Kevin, for your partnership and willingness to walk alongside LIA in this Kingdom work!

Exactly one month before my 35th birthday, I was hit with a heavy statistic: Every year, 11 million children die before they reach their 5th birthday.

The number came to me in an email from Life in Abundance International asking if I’d help with a pilot test of their new Birthday Campaign. The idea behind it is simple — “donate” your next birthday so someone LIA serves can live to celebrate their next birthday. Instead of presents for you, friends and family can give money to the organization, and raise awareness of its work in the process. It’s an exciting model that can truly change the horrible reality many people are living through each day.

During the summer of 2010, I was fortunate enough to see LIA at work through a trip my church, Cedar Ridge Christian Church in Lenexa, Kan., took to Ethiopia. Along with my wife, Elizabeth Selders; a sister, Kelly Steinle; and several friends, we were able to witness how LIA is mobilizing the local church to meet numerous needs in the cities of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capitol, and Jimma, the largest city in the southwestern part of the country. We were able to meet inspiring families living in the slums of Addis’ Merkato district — Africa’s largest open-air market, and give school supplies to bright, young students in the more rural Jimma. I’ll never forget how often these young children in both cities — many of whom were in those critical years before their own 5th birthday — would walk up to us smiling, grab our hand and just want us to walk down the muddy, rocky streets with them.

After making such a trip, it’s easy to support LIA’s work in whatever way possible. What they’re doing is working. They’ve built their organization so only God can make it work … and man is he at work.

Setting up my own fundraising page for the campaign was simple. However, I admit I was a bit nervous about launching my own personal campaign. “How much can I really raise? Will my friends want to donate? What if I don’t hit my goal?” I decided to set a goal that was reachable, even if it took some work.

“I’ll shoot for $350, raising $10 for every year of my life,” I thought. “Hopefully, I can hit that.”

Three days later, I realized I aimed too low. My friends and family already plowed through my original goal. I was sucker punched with the fact that it really had little to do with me. It was about generous people responding to LIA’s story, God’s story, and the beautiful people of Ethiopia who could use our love. Amazed, I decided to set a new goal with about a week and a half until my birthday: I doubled the original amount and went for $700. It was down to the wire, but after sharing LIA’s story through emails, tweets and posts on Facebook, and urging everyone to add their own part to that story, we raised $724.

I’m seriously blessed to have the family and friends that I have in my life. I’m inspired by their desire to give and erase needs. However, I truly believe that people in general are more giving than we expect them to be. When introduced to the alarmingly real statistics and moving personal stories, many are quick to join any cause. Then there’s the awe-inspiring work LIA does that moves people to go above and beyond what they think they’re capable of.

For those of you wanting to launch your own birthday campaign, here are some things I found helpful during mine:

  • Pray about your campaign and start it at least two weeks before your birthday. Create your personal page a few days before you begin.
  • Invite people to join you in the campaign and acknowledge that it’s something you’re all doing together. Ask everyone to pray and learn more about LIA.
  • Share LIA’s story often through social media, email and whatever other ways you can think of. Use videos, links and your own personal stories of interacting with LIA to convey the important work at hand, and the lives they’ll be changing. Think outside of the box.
  • Keep in mind that in the end, your goal doesn’t really matter. What you’ve accomplished together does. You’ll be surprised what can happen.


And you know this campaign model works when it’s in line with the upside-down logic of following Christ, which tells us to love our enemies and die to ourselves to find abundant life. Here, if you truly want a happy birthday, you have to give it away.

LIA receives Ethiopia award

April 26th, 2013 | Posted by | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Addis Ababa | Ethiopia | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Home Page | LIA News | Home Page | Water and sanitation


A few weeks ago, LIA received top honors by the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, with an achievement award for our water and sanitation (WASH) program in Kirkos, a sub-city of Addis Ababa.

We are honored to have received the top recognition among other widely respected peers. More than 1,000 nonprofit community organizations were considered for this achievement. The award certificate reads:

“The Community Mobilization Agency of Addis Ababa City’s Construction and Houses Development Bureau awards this certificate with heartfelt gratitude as the organization stood 1st in its contribution for the public development works and plan achievement during 2011/12.”

This WASH program was implemented between 2009-2012 and was designed to improve the health and socioeconomic well-being of the Kirkos community by reducing water-related diseases through sustainable access to water, and improved sanitation and hygiene practices. LIA partnered with the local church, government and other community stakeholders to serve more than 16,000 people. Altogether, 30 public water stand pipes, 15 public showers, five washing basins and 18 community latrines (VIPLs) have been constructed and are actively being used by the community.

Beneficiaries in the community have also been educated on health sanitation hygiene practices, and are encouraged to promote these practices to others. Additionally, the program includes an income generation component, enabling 150 street children collect garbage from the community and dispose it to a dumping site. This helps not only the youth, but the community as it reduces the exposure to poor sanitation.

LIA has since begun the initial stages for two other integrated WASH programs in sub-cities of Addis Ababa which will benefit more than 23,000 people.

Please join us in celebrating the tremendous work of our team and church partners in Ethiopia. May God be glorified through these efforts!


Stories from Ethiopia

March 14th, 2013 | Posted by | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Adama | Home Page | Children | Ethiopia | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Home Page

For the last three years, LIA walked alongside church partners in Adama, Ethiopia, to implement transformational development initiatives aimed at catalyzing lasting change in the community.

During the next few months, we will phase out of an orphans and vulnerable children program in this community. This program has benefited 150 youth living or at-risk of living on the streets of Adama, and their families.

Please join us in celebrating the transformations that have taken root during this program’s progress! Below are just a few of the stories of those involved in the program:

Musa spent two years wandering the streets of Adama to survive. During that time, he worked miscellaneous jobs, but his income was not enough for his basic needs. After he joined the project, the love and care he received during his counseling sessions, in addition to the life skills he gained, equipped him to be able to support himself.

He said “I am experiencing a change in my life since the very time I came to this project. Now, I am earning an income by selling traditional toothbrushes. I am getting 30 birr daily and I am able to save up to 15 birr per day. I am so happy that I am living in the peer house with my three friends. I am also so glad that I’m going to attend school this year, and this means so much for me since I have never been to school in my whole life.”

Habiba is the mother of five children in Adama. Because of her current circumstances and living conditions, LIA’s church partners identified her children as at-risk of living on the streets and enrolled them in LIA’s OVC program. She and her family lived in a small, one-room house that could not fit their family easily. But through the LIA OVC program, she and her family received assistance such as food, clothes/uniforms and sanitary materials.

Habiba said, “Getting the assistance enabled me to save money that I would spend on the mentioned commodities. Using the money I saved, I am able to rent an additional room and using it for my children’s bedroom.”

Because of her family’s involvement, Habiba is able to prevent her children from being forced to live on the streets. What a true picture of empowerment for a mother and family!

Mebratu was another child living on the streets of Adama before he was enrolled in LIA and its church partners’ OVC program. As a child, he lived with his older brother in a remote town in Ethiopia. After a dispute with his brother, he left home and came to Adama where he soon learned life was not as easy as he expected. He spent more than a year trying to stabilize his life and make ends meet.

“The sharp turning point to my life happened when I joined the Life in Abundance Adama project. I began to be hopeful and through the counseling and other services like peer house, food and education materials, I am now able to live life as never before. I am now pursuing my schooling from grade 8 in the extension program.”

Mebratu is also working as a baker and earns 300 birr per month. He’s also being provided breakfast and lunch at work, so we is able to put more into his long-term savings.

Sintayehu is yet another child who came to LIA while he was living on the streets. Starkly different from his life a few years ago, he now lives in peer housing with his two friends, and attends school. Through his involvement in the OVC project, he receives food, sanitation services, school materials and counseling – assistance he never would have received wondering on streets.

During his time with LIA’s church partners, his health improved and his behavior changed, which he believes enabled him to be seen as trustworthy and loyal. As a result, he has been hired as a security guard and is able to provide for himself, in addition to building his savings. His new hope has led to great ambition for his future. But first, he intends to finish school, since he know that is foundational for the future he sees for himself.

Read more stories of lives restored through LIA’s transformational development work.


200 Youth Have New Hope in Arada, Ethiopia

September 19th, 2012 | Posted by | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Addis Ababa | Home Page | Children | Ethiopia | Home Page | General | Home Page | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Merkato | Uncategorized

Streetchildren eating a daily meal provided by LIA church partners

Less than 18 months ago, 200 youth and their families were hopeless. They spent their waking moments in search of physical sustenance. Now, they’re physical needs are being met, their confidence and skills being raised, and they are beginning to look beyond tomorrow, for long-term (perhaps eternal) spiritual sustenance. What, in this world, is more rewarding then seeing the Kingdom come one step closer, one community at a time?

For more than a decade, LIA has pioneered its transformational development model in Ethiopia, specifically targeting homeless and at-risk youth, among other vulnerable groups.

This month marks the halfway point in one of those integrated programs, and we wanted to take pause to celebrate how far this community has come in such a short time!


From the Field – "There Is Hope" In Ethiopia

January 31st, 2012 | Posted by | Ethiopia | Home Page | Health | Home Page | HIV/AIDS | Home Page | Uncategorized

This month, our LIA team in Ethiopia shares a touching story of one woman’s encounter with our church partner’s HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention program in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia. Enjoy!

“There is Hope”

Genet, a community health evangelist trained by LIA and its partner church, visits homes in Debre Birhan to care for sick families and to help raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, one of the most devastating, yet preventable diseases still wreaking havoc in African countries. Her strong passion to care for people suffering with HIV/AIDS is particularly captivating, as she too is living with the virus.


Taking Up the Cause of the Fatherless

May 12th, 2011 | Posted by | Home Page | Children | Ethiopia | Ethiopia | Ethiopia Blog | Home Page | Events | Home Page

Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

I ask you to join me in prayer this week as I am given the opportunity to represent LIA as we take up the cause of the fatherless at the Christian Alliance for Orphans’ Global Summit – hosted at Southeast Christian Church, May 12-13.

The driving mission behind the summit weighs heavy on my heart. Statistics tell us every 15 seconds another child in Africa becomes an orphan due to AIDS, and Ethiopia has the largest population of orphans in the world (estimated 4.6 million). These statistics portray a grave reality that there are children who are suffering and there are issues which must be addressed to end the perpetuation of these trends.  As professionals from around the world are united at this Summit for the common cause of strategically planning how to combat the issues linked to these disheartening numbers, I am praying for the Lord’s presence and guiding hand through the entirety of our time together.

Please join me this week in praying for the Summit. Pray that God would be glorified in our conversations, workshops, and future planning as we seek to serve the least of these, and as we seek to end the cycles, which bring about such situations for precious children.

Most importantly, I ask you to join me in praying for the children who have lost one or both of their parents – some forced to sleep on the cold streets at night, lacking the protection or love from a parent or guardian figure. May we not forget why we tirelessly work to see impact and strides being made to combat these realities.