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LIA-US Team Memo

February 23rd, 2016 | Posted by | Home Page | Leadership | LIA News | USA

We are overjoyed and humbled at what God has accomplished through the work of Life in Abundance (LIA) the past few decades. We have high hopes and eager expectations for what the Lord will bring to fruition as we continue to put our hand to the plow the coming seasons. As we deepen our impact within the countries we serve, strengthen and grow our partnerships and finish our 2014 – 2016 strategic plan, we approach the Father’s throne with boldness, confident that He will provide exceedingly and abundantly what we ask according to His will – to God be the glory.

As with any ministry, we have teams in place with talented and impassioned people that support the work that we are called to do. We are incredibly grateful for each sibling of the Kingdom that makes up our diverse and unified family.

We want to take this time to introduce our LIA-US Team, whose home base is established in Louisville, Kentucky. Our LIA-US Team holds a place near and dear to our heart and plays a critical role within the ministry of LIA. We took the time to interview each team member and asked them to explain their role within LIA, what aspect of the model and mission resonates most with them and what they look forward to in the days ahead.

Join us as we celebrate these family members and pray the Lord would bestow His favor and blessing on their families and give them clarity and vision in the roles they serve within Life in Abundance.

 

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Carley Buckingham | Executive Director

(1) What’s your role on the LIA-US team?

Leading and shepherding our LIA-US team. Our role in serving the whole consist of walking with the partners the Lord has gifted us; individuals, Churches & Foundations, telling the real-time-story of LIA, advocating, walking with folks who say “Yes Lord” to partnering with us in Short Term Mission opportunities. It’s joy, pure joy to advance alongside our LIA-US team.

(2) What about the mission and model do you most resonate with?

I love the local church, I honor and hold high the way the Trinity imagined the local church to lead, shepherd, serve, restore, heal, encourage, enrich communities – LIA holds high this picture of the local church, her role in a community, believing we don’t need to reinvent systems and structures to restore communities – the Father has already designed it LIA simply chooses to partner with His original design. It’s beautiful, just stunning when you really see this at work for the first time – I remember walking the roads of Kisumu, Kenya when this “clicked” for me – I stopped in my tracks…”this works, this really works, this is His design…”

(3) As you look to the days ahead, what are you most excited about?

I’m excited about the deeper work. LIA has spent it’s initial 25 years establishing the work – in the years ahead it’s time to deepen the work, to lean into the countries/territories the Lord has gifted us and pick up the plow in new communities. For example, in one country we may be active in 3-5 communities, I dream of the days we’ll be active in 30-40 communities. In fact, we have communities who are “in waiting” who have learned of our work and have requested we come to their community and walk with them. As the Lord grows & strengthens partnerships, would we continue to steward well His resources and advance His work in the communities He calls us to.

 

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Amy Walker | Church & Missions Engagement Director

(1) What’s your role on the LIA-US team?

In this role, I have the honor of engaging with our church and para-church partners—cultivating & strengthening existing partnerships and cultivating new relationships.

(2) What about the mission and model do you most resonate with?

LIA has had a huge influence on my perspective of the local church’s role in the community regardless of where you are in the world. I love that every LIA project is implemented through the local church and this positions the church to be the light and hope in a community and promotes unity in the body of Christ.

(3) As you look to the days ahead, what are you most excited about?

First, I have the honor of spending the next few weeks traveling with Dr. Florence to visit different partners throughout the country.  I am excited to personally meet some of our church partners and to learn from Dr. Florence how to cultivate LIA’s relationships. Second, I love the people that the Lord has brought to the LIA-US team and I’m excited to see how He grows the capacity of the ministry.

 

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Jay Muindi | Advancement Director

(1)What’s your role on the LIA-US team?

My role is to ensure that we do a good job stewarding the wonderful relationships and partnerships the Lord has brought our way. Part of my role is to strategically develop ways to engage with our foundation partners, donors or anyone interested in walking with us in service of the poor and vulnerable in the communities we serve.

(2) What about the mission and model do you most resonate with?

LIA works to ensure that communities are self sufficient through “wholistic” development. Meaning we not only work to address the physical/material needs of a person or community (food, water, shelter etc.), but we also seek to affect the spirit and the mind, meeting the needs of the whole person. For it is in the wholistic transformation of a person that we believe people truly find dignity and purpose. I see this as the embodiment of Isaiah 61, and that resonates with me.

(3) As you look to the days ahead, what are you most excited about?

I am most excited to see what relationships God brings our way this year as we work to address the needs of the poor and vulnerable around the world. Already, within the first two months, we have made amazing connections in Sicily as the LIA model is being used to address the refugee crisis and in Burundi, a country that is in a very difficult spot at the moment. In line with our 2014-2016 Strategic Plan, we will also be starting programs in Burundi, Uganda and DR Congo as well as expanding our partnership operations in Europe.

 

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Jordan McGuire | Short Term Missions Coordinator

(1) What’s your role on the LIA-US team?

I coordinate with our church and para-church partners to go on short-term trips to see and participate in our work on the field.

(2) What about the mission and model do you most resonate with?

I resonate the most with how the LIA model focuses on the whole person. To focus simply on the material aspect of development or to focus simply on the spiritual aspect of the person, I think it can miss the whole of the gospel.  God is restoring people to right relationships with Him, where they find their dignity in Him, and can serve His Kingdom through sustaining themselves and helping to bring restoration to others.

(3) As you look to the days ahead, what are you most excited about?

I am excited to see teams return from their trips and apply what they learned to their own contexts, communities and cities.

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Joy Peterson | Executive Assistant

(1) What’s your role on the LIA-US team?

I assist the US Executive Director with high-level projects as well as manage the daily tactical operations of the LIA-US Office.

(2) What about the mission and model do you most resonate with?

The transformational development model of LIA is a powerful framework for sustainable work rooted in the Gospel and empowered by the local church.  It is effective because it addresses the root causes of poverty while breaking cycles of dependency and restoring a person’s God-given dignity.

(3) As you look to the days ahead, what are you most excited about?

The hope of the Gospel is for all people. I’m excited to see this hope come to the refugees pouring into Sicily through pastors trained by LIA, and this same hope come to hard places like Rwanda and Bruindi as we move into the Lakes Region. Beyond all of this, I’m most excited to see prayer continue to be the foundation for all that we receive vision for and put our hand to.

 

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Nicole Welty | Finance Manager

(1) What’s your role on the LIA-US team?

I am in charge of record keeping, reporting, and advising.

(2) What about the mission and model do you most resonate with?

I love that the model is set up to truly encourage growth. There is no plan to stay in a community long term, which helps the communities truly become self sufficient and real change to occur.

(3) As you look to the days ahead, what are you most excited about?

I am truly excited about the financial position of LIA. The new financial processes are healthy and I cannot wait to see how God will continue to bless LIA.

 

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Steven Walker | Communications Director

(1) What’s your role on the LIA-US team?

I am commissioned to tell the story of God’s work through Life in Abundance. I oversee all communication pieces i.e. website, social media platforms, print and digital marketing materials.

 (2) What about the mission and model do you most resonate with?

At the heart of sustainable transformational development is the testimony of God’s grace in my life. He is the God that sustains me (Psalm 54:4), transforms me (Romans 12:2) and equips me (Hebrews 13:21) to glorify His name and testify to His goodness. As we serve the poor and the vulnerable (Galatians 2:10), we declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. (Psalm 96:3). The model and mission of LIA is essentially the mission of Jesus. We are transformed from within and then disciple our neighbors while impacting the community around us. The model just works.

 (3) As you look to the days ahead, what are you most excited about?

I give God praise for allowing me to be a part of this ministry. He is beyond imagination. I look forward to the impact the training centers will have on leadership teams as they are equipped to bring sustainable transformation to their communities. I also look forward to visiting Africa and seeing the work of LIA first hand. It will be glorious! My prayer for this year would be, as it reads in 2 Corinthians 3:18, we with unveiled faces would contemplate the Lord’s glory and be transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord.

 

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Yonas Melesse | Grants & Compliance Manager

(1) What’s your role on the LIA-US team?

My role is proposing and managing grants from a variety of foundation, church and para-church organizations. I am responsible for researching grants, writing letters of intent, proposals and grant reports to donors.

(2) What about the mission and model do you most resonate with?

I have been inspired by LIA’s commitment and strategies in empowering the local church as a means to attain sustainable community transformation. When I was working as a Program Manager in LIA-Ethiopia Country Office, I noticed that the local churches that received training and support from LIA started community outreach activities that actually granted them acceptance and recognition in their communities, and of course opened doors for them to do evangelism freely – the core of their existence!

(3) As you look to the days ahead, what are you most excited about?

I am so excited that new partners are being added to our grant maker portfolio and LIA is currently strengthening its internal capacity to enhance fund-raising capabilities by improving its communications with partners and implementing impactful programs in countries where we operate.

 



Q&A with Dr. Girma Begashaw – LIA’s new Chief of Operations

August 19th, 2015 | Posted by | Home Page | Leadership

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Dr. Girma Begashaw joins LIA as the Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Dr. Begashaw has over 35 years of work experience with International Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs), serving in senior leadership, organizational development and technical training roles. With a technical background in Civil Engineering, Dr. Begashaw also holds a Masters and Doctorate degree in Leadership Development.  He is a married, a proud grandfather and currently lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

We asked him a few questions to get to know him a little better.

Tell us about your calling and conviction to serve the Kingdom?

First of all my calling and conviction starts with Jesus Christ. He saved me. He gave me salvation. He is my Lord, He is my shepherd, He is my hope. He gave me purpose, He answered my questions, He transformed my life and I am indebted to Him for life. That is why I also want to share with others the blessing of the wholistic life that I have received. Because he transformed me physically, socially, economically and mentally. It is because of that transformation that I feel obliged to to take part in the great commission. That is my purpose and calling in life.

What drew you to LIA?

I have been involved in Christian ministry through the NGO set up for over 35 years. I have also been an active member of my local church in addition to various initiatives within Christian ministry circles. So all this prepared me to serve as Chairman of the LIA International Board for a season and now I feel called to play a more active role in this ministry. A ministry that focuses on declaring the gospel through words, deeds and lifestyle. LIA’s vision and mission is aligned with my passion and it inspires me daily to work in service of that.

What are you most looking forward to in your role with LIA?

There are two important expectations I have for myself. First, is to play my part as a member of the leadership in LIA and shape what LIA looks like going forward as it advances into the next phase of development. Second, I want to build our efficiency as we work to put in place the right systems and the right people to carry us forward. All while being committed to building our capacity, encouraging one another and developing a leadership team that is both empowered and skilled enough to take LIA to the next level. My expectation is that LIA will expand in depth and width. Meaning that we need to ensure that as LIA grows in geographical width it will also grow deeper in the impact it is having when implementing its model.

What will be your role as the Chief Operations Officer?  

LIA has a three person leadership team. There is Dr. Muindi (CEO), Carley Buckingham (Executive Director) and myself. We will be the ones setting the direction and leading LIA International. More specifically my role will be to oversee LIA’s program operations and venturing into promoting and developing local in country recourse mobilization.



Welcome: Rev Mutinda Musyimi – Director of Training

July 23rd, 2015 | Posted by | Home Page | Home Page | Leadership

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Rev Mutinda Musyimi joins the LIA team as the Director of Training at the LIA Center, Kenya.

As the Director of Training Rev Mutinda will be responsible for establishing a dynamic training function in line with LIA’s vision and mission as well as coordinating all training activities in the various Country Offices.

Rev Mutinda Musyimi is an ordained Church Minister and in addition to pastoring several churches Rev Mutinda has previously been a High School teacher and a University lecturer.  He taught communications at Daystar University in Athi River, Kenya where he also served as a University Chaplain for four years. Rev Mutinda is married to Jennifer and they are blessed with three children.

We asked Rev Mutinda to share a little more about himself so you might get to know him a bit more:

What drew you to LIA?

A number of things but the bottom line is that it was an opportunity to serve God. That’s the main one, but specifically it was the kind of holistic approach that is here at LIA. I have seen many churches and organizations whose main focus is only the preaching of the word but as far as I’m concerned the approach that Jesus Christ took was very holistic. He fed the poor, he healed the sick, he was there to give guidance and equip those around him for greater things.

I come from a very humble background and I have gone through several struggles in life. Those struggles have given me a very soft spot for those who are less privileged. It gives me such joy to see someone who is less privileged empowered because though I am not a rich man I am a different person from what I was and it is because I was empowered. So I might even say I have a selfish agenda in being here because it gives me so much joy to see someone empowered in this life!

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What are you most looking forward to in your role with LIA?

Seeing people trained, because information is power. I am looking forward to seeing as many people – both rich and poor – trained and empowered to break the shackles of poverty and retrogressive traditions.

I also hope to create a great pool of professionals who will not only come and train people but also be inspired to continue to be agents of change in their spheres of influence.

Finally, I’m looking forward to seeing the new LIA Center in Kenya become a beehive of activity. Not just busy to be busy, but busy with the Kingdom work. I would like to see the LIA Center become a place to retreat for many people. A haven where they can get away to learn, be inspired and draw closer to the lord and the kingdom work.

What do you do other than oversee training and the LIA Center?

As part of the Senior Leadership Team I am responsible for helping lead and guide this organization both here at the HQ and in the country offices. I will also be using my gifts of preaching and teaching. That is what I have done most of my life and that is what I hope to continue doing in varying capacities.



Ruth’s Eye Opening Training

April 2nd, 2015 | Posted by | Kenya | Economic Opportunity | Kenya | Kenya | Kenya Blog | Kisumu | Home Page | Leadership | Home Page | Micro-Enterprise | Uncategorized | Kenya | Vulnerable Children

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One of the programs that LIA is rolling out in the impoverished fishing community of Kisumu, Kenya, is the guardian program. In this program guardians of at risk youth are identified and the local church – and in partnership with LIA – servers to not only support them but empower them to uplift the children that are in their care.

Ruth is one of these guardians. As the sole provider for her five grandchildren, four boys and precious baby girl, it is no surprise that every waking moment is devoted to her children. Ruth, who’s gray hairs betray the youth in her face, lives on the outskirts of Kisumu in a community called Nyawita. Nyawita is one of the poorer suburbs of Kisumu town.

When asked about her grandchildren its clear that her primary priority is that they go to school and do well. Many of the residents in Nyawita do not have much more than an 8th grade education, and as a result work low wage, unskilled jobs. Ruth is adamant that her grandchildren have a better future so that is why her local church in Nyawita felt it was important to stand with her for the sake of her children.

“Its bad luck to say your age” Ruth says “and I need luck because I want to be around to see my grand children become professors”. So in her old age –that will not be mentioned—Ruth was equipped with economic empowerment and resource mobilization training through her church’s TOT. Through this training Ruth confesses her eyes were opened as she discovered how to work smarter, not harder. This not only allowed her more time with her grandchildren children but also helped her to start saving, eventually joining a revolving fund set up by LIA in her local church.

The revolving fund group is made up of other guardians of at risk youth in the community of Nyawita and although the purpose of the group is resource mobilization, they also there to support each other through the challenges of trying to raise children in Nyawita.

“My ambition is that my grandchildren never need to worry about anything other than succeeding in school. I invest my energy in them because they are the future and they deserve a future.”



A Place to Call Home

March 19th, 2015 | Posted by | LIA News | Events | Kenya | Home Page | Leadership | LIA News | Uncategorized

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Now I just want to tell us the story of Life In Abundance, because for some of you this may be the first time you have heard it. So I just wanted to walk you through our story. Where did we come from? How did all this begin?

Dr. Florence Muindi stood at the front of conference room one with a subtle breeze drifting in from the windows. The room is still fairly bare and the walls not yet finished but you almost don’t even notice. Every eye in the room is fixed on Dr. Muindi, hanging on every word as she narrates the journey that has lead us to this day, and there is a collective sense of awe. Not at the beautiful structure that we sit in – wall paint aside –but at the wonder that is God’s word made manifest.

It was upon the shores of Lake Langano, in Ethiopia, where Dr. Muindi received the vision for this training center. “One morning as I was strolling by the lake I heard God speak to me. He told me to dip my hand in the sand and grab a fist full. He said to me, as many are grains of sand in your hand so will be the number of people that will be trained in transformational development through the ministry of LIA.

She then hurried back to the room asked her two little boys, Kyalo who was 4 at the time and Jay who was 8, to join her in playing a game. Soon realizing that they were being roped into helping mom count grains of sand they quickly became creative with excuses and pealed themselves away from the table full of sand.

That was in 1998, and though it wasn’t clear how that word would come to pass, it never left her. When the seed was planted in 2004, as Life In Abundance grew and opened an office in Kenya then years later identified a plot of land for a training center, gathered the funds, identified an architect and that architect started drawing up plans, Dr. Muindi admitted that the whole process didn’t seem real. That it was miraculous to watch the vision God had given her, actually becoming a reality.

What you see before you today has not been accomplished by our hands or by our effort, it is God’s and we are gathered here to bear testimony to that. However this is not the end, this is just the beginning of greater things to come

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As people proceeded outside to plant trees and wander around the office facilities it was hard to escape from using the word ‘Home.’ In addition to being an international training and main office to the LIA Kenya and International teams, this facility gives Life In Abundance a home where the mission and vision of LIA can live.

So as the trees grow taller, and the roots run deeper, our prayer is that God would continue to grow His mission through LIA by widening our borders and extending our impact. Our goal, as so eloquently expressed in the words of Psalms 96, is that we may continue to declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.

LIA staff will officially move into the new Headquarter building at the beginning of April.

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Guest Post: Progress in South Sudan

March 12th, 2015 | Posted by | Home Page | Children | Home Page | Health | Home Page | HIV/AIDS | Home Page | Leadership | Home Page | Micro-Enterprise | South Sudan | Home Page | Water and sanitation

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Flatirons Community Church began supporting LIA’s work in South Sudan shortly after the country gained independence in 2011. Ron Barnes, Faltirons’ Global Outreach Pastor, graciously shared his experience about the leadership’s most recent trip to visit the work in the young country. Though they were scheduled to visit more areas, the current conflict in the country prevented safe travel and they were only able to see three of the regions they support. Though disappointed they were not able to visit Maper, they were more disappointed to learn about the severity of the conflict and how it was affecting their friends living in the area.

Flatirons supports LIA’s work in South Sudan and many leaders and members of our church have been on trips to the field. We were excited to return to reconnect with friends, and the staff, and to bring encouragement. Our team was able to witness the LIA International Training Center dedication ceremony in Nairobi and then went on to visit our friends LIA is working with in South Sudan.

On arriving, we spent the first few days in Yambio, the capital of Western Equatoria State, along the border with the DRC. A team from Flatirons had visited this same community in October and told us great things, so we were looking forward to meeting everyone and learning what all was going on. We were not disappointed. We visited six churches in six different communities who had all participated in LIA trainings. As Paul, the local LIA coordinator, introduced us to each community, we were amazed to hear over and over, “because of the training of LIA our eyes were opened.” The training LIA does is focused on helping the local church see how they can impact their own communities with minimal outside assistance by building up local leadership and using local resources. Most of the churches had determined that the best initial solution to the issues their community faced was to start some sort of nursery school to provide structure for and help numerous children get a head start on their education. It was great to see this focus on education, especially since there had been very little access to any education across the country for decades, due to conflict and very little development. Many of them had also begun agriculture projects to generate income and supplement the nutritional needs of vulnerable people within their communities. Other initiatives included outreach to HIV+ women, building a home for a local widow in the community, digging a well to provide water for the community, and expanding a church building to accommodate more people for worship.

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After we said our goodbyes to Yambio, we moved on to Rumbek and had a great time reconnecting with friends. It was challenging to see and hear stories of the issues related to the fighting. Many are caring for extended family and friends who had been displaced because of the conflict. Though a difficult season, I believe it was good for us to visit and listen as our friends told of the challenges they faced. And I am confident that the training LIA provides will be very helpful in Rumbek and Maper as the need to care for IDPs and refugees creates some unique and difficult challenges to overcome. We’re praying that the peace process we heard about while we were there will take hold and allow more freedom for people to focus on how they can positively impact their community.

Finally, we visited Juba. We were very happy to be able to briefly visit Richard, LIA South Sudan’s Country Director. He has recently struggled with some health concerns that forced him to go to Khartoum for treatment. Though his recovery will take some time, it was encouraging to be able to visit briefly and pray with Richard. We were also able to see some fruit of LIA training in Juba. At one church, in particular, one of the men who had been trained spoke very eloquently about how his “eyes had been opened” and stated that if someone gives you a handout they really don’t love you, but if they help you learn how to get what you need, that is real love.What an amazing reminder and testament to the model God has given LIA!

Though we’ve been to South Sudan to see the work before, this visit offered us a great picture of what LIA does and how very effective it is. For many of us living in the Western world, there is a great temptation to see things develop toward what we know in our lives and communities and to bring many outside resources. Unfortunately, when we interject too many of our own ideas and resources we can unintentionally cripple a community. The results can be confusing when we try to solve a problem that they do not see as a problem. But even worse, the results can be devastating when we communicate that only we can provide solutions to the challenges they face.

I’m not saying there isn’t a role for those of us living in the West; there definitely is! Most of us have been blessed with much more than we need and we must remember that we are only blessed by God so that we can be a blessing to others. We must be wise as we seek to bless others so our blessings don’t become curses. Though development can be a complex thing, it seems to me there are a couple of basic things that would help us ensure our desire to be a blessing, will truly bless.

Let’s get to know people and become friends before we begin to act. Let’s listen well and work hard to understand a situation before we act. Let’s be careful not to take an opportunity away from the local church where they can follow-up and much more effectively point people in their community toward Jesus. Finally, let’s do things with people instead of to or for people.

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Our whole team learned some important things on this visit:

  1. We learned at the dedication of the LIA training center in Nairobi that taking time to celebrate and acknowledge the work God has done is very good. I think that is a lesson we can learn better from our brothers and sisters who are part of LIA.
  2. We got to see a great example of the power of God through LIA’s training in equipping the local churches.
  3. We were able to see and appreciate some different expressions of Christianity lived out that will hopefully bear fruit in our lives.

I am grateful for the partnership between LIA and Flatirons Community Church. I am thankful even for the challenges that lead us closer together. I look forward to where God will lead us together.



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

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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.

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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



Why I Support LIA – Jim & Jenny

September 11th, 2013 | Posted by | Home Page | Home Page | Leadership | Home Page | Pray | Home Page | Serve | USA

Since 2009, Jim and Jenny Headlee have generously donated their time, expertise and resources to advancing LIA’s ministry both in the field and among supporters. In 2012, Jim began serving on the LIA USA Advisory Council. He and Jenny are passionate about this Kingdom work.

When asked why they have chosen to walk with LIA, Jim shared these thoughts:

Several years ago, I heard a soft-spoken African woman, Dr. Florence Muindi, speak to an audience about her mission work with a quiet, yet passionate, resolve. Her ministry was not about “funding and fixing” the poor, but empowering local churches to break their community’s cycle of dependency and restore their dignity. That model was intriguing to my wife, Jenny, and me.

As a believer in Christ, and founder/CEO of an energy company operating worldwide with several hundred employees, I thought my leadership was effective, and as a Christian, mostly on target. But Dr. Muindi opened my eyes to leadership as a believer.

“What does it take to lead? Is it someone who develops an inspiring vision, formulates their strategy, mobilizes people with charisma, puts systems in place, and seeks funding?” she asks. “Do these leadership methods satisfy what God has planned for us?” She continues, “No. It is more. It takes a person who would partner with God in His purpose, search the mind of God and be willing to release his/her ambition and purpose to fully know His will and align with it.”

I certainly wasn’t thinking from quite that perspective. But as a believer, there was (truly) no reason to think differently, regardless of the organization you are leading.

Many times, we would like to bring our plans before God and seek His blessing. But Dr. Muindi reminded me it is the other way around: “God calls us to surrender our plans, then identify what He wants and sign up for that wholeheartedly.” Her humility, and consistent trust that God would invite her into His work, was something I found compelling.

Dr. Muindi and the Life In Abundance staff are walking and serving in God’s story to the poor. Across eight countries in Africa and now the Caribbean, hundreds of communities and thousands of families have been trained and empowered to break their cycle of dependency and poverty.

LIA has joined God in His work to heal emotions, share His message of redemption and affirm their dignity. This is why Jenny and I partner with LIA, and this is why we will continue to partner with LIA. I’m privileged to personally know and serve with Dr. Muindi and others on the LIA US Advisory Council and International Board.

Jim Headlee, Excited Donor and USA Council member of LIA

 



Guest post: A missions experience in Haiti

September 4th, 2013 | Posted by | Home Page | General | Haiti | Home Page | Health | Home Page | Home Page | Leadership

Ashton Curry is a LIA mission trip participant, having joined us in Haiti this summer. She shared a bit about her experience:

In May 2013, LIA sent its first mission team to Jacmel, Haiti. God blessed me with the opportunity to be the medical team’s student physical therapist.

Initially, I found a dependency and self-entitlement mindset to be common among the Haitian people and can’t help but wonder if the constant supply of free foreign aid provided as relief has facilitated this mindset. Three years after the earthquake, free handouts are still being given. In fact, local doctors are being run out of business due to free medical care. What happens when there are no medical teams or local doctors? People turn to voodoo for healing. This can’t be God’s idea of restoration.

During my time in Jacmel, I saw many broken and hurt people, but one Haitian lady opened my eyes to what God is doing in Haiti:

Before we opened the clinic each day, we hosted a lesson about common health issues the Haitian people encounter. Because many women carry heavy loads on their heads as a means of transportation, one day I demonstrated good lifting techniques to help prevent back injuries. After the demonstration, I asked if anyone had any questions or alternate ideas. An older woman raised her hand and asked, “Can someone else help you lift a heavy load?” Wow, what a simple yet profound idea that never crossed my mind! I told her she was very smart and had a fantastic idea. Her face lit up, and the Haitians started clapping for her. It was almost as if they had expected the educated American to have all the answers and that they didn’t think they could have great ideas. But that day, this lady realized her ideas were indeed great and she had something worthwhile to contribute.

Through encounters like this, I got to see how some Haitian churches are beginning to realize they can help transform their own community.

George Rono, LIA’s Haiti country director, was already connected with 42 churches in the Jacmel area, teaching them about how God wants them to live in restoration. I believe God is using LIA to transition the Haitians from a mindset of relief to restoration by equipping the local churches to make disciples and respond to community needs. Many pastors, church members and translators were active in our medical clinic by being eager to learn and serve. We even got to work alongside Haitian nurses. They are being empowered, and God is using LIA as that empowerment tool!



GMHC Africa: Coming of Age, Time to Engage

August 29th, 2013 | Posted by | LIA News | Events | Home Page | Kenya | Home Page | Leadership | Home Page | Learn | LIA News | Uncategorized | USA

On August 22 and 23, 2013, more than 200 people gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, for the first-ever African-hosted Global Medical Health Conference (GMHC Africa).  Hosting the conference on African soil fulfilled the vision of Dr. Florence Muindi and the LIA international board, in partnership with Southeast Christian Church of Louisville, KY, USA.

Representatives gathered from 17 countries in Africa and around the world to learn from prominent speakers in four plenary and 20 breakout sessions—all designed to inspire and educate participants in how health care can complement the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Conspicuous in the attendees were a significant number of medical students who were actively discerning God’s call on their lives.

At the close of the conference, Dr. Muindi acknowledged the prayerful and dedicated service of the steering committee that included: Dr. Charlie Vittitow, Dr. Peter Okaalet, Dr. Stephen Muhudhia, Dr. Girma Begashaw, Bruce Dahlman and James Gatere.  She also gave sincere thanks to Southeast Christian Church who provided sacrificial financial and prayer support for the event.

Founded in 1995, the Global Mission Health Conference (GMHC) is a ministry of Southeast Christian Church (SECC) whose members desire to cast a vision for health care missions.  Professionals and missions-minded leaders have gathered each year to explore the Lord’s vision of medical missions around the world. In 2011, SECC launched MedicalMissions.com to provide learning resources and to showcase these unique opportunities.  The website now equips nearly 100,000 individuals per year.

Dr. Muindi adds, “Holding the Global Missions Health on African soil fulfills a vision from the Lord.  We had a strong sense of God’s presence throughout the two days of the conference. It was manifested in the powerful teaching sessions. Equally important were the vigorous and intentional conversations that filled the hallways and common spaces in between scheduled events, as people from various nations and backgrounds engaged one another in networking, discerning God’s purposes and advancing this important idea. When we do things that agree with God’s heart, in His timing, we can expect Him to show up in a mighty way.  And that’s just what we experienced!”

Plans for future Global Health Missions Conferences and related events can be seen on MedicalMissions.com, and are announced on LIA’s website.