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Active Territory – Rumbek, South Sudan

July 13th, 2017 | Posted by | Uncategorized

The Birth of CHEEM in South Sudan

When the Lord opened the door for us to enter Rumbek in 2012, we knew the work was going to be difficult, but could not have anticipated the challenges we would face through the years. Although we were working in a number of countries in various communities, seeing poverty in its many forms, this was one of the few places that we were called to serve where tribal war and political unrest would be such a stronghold to overcome.

Rumbek, a rural area within the state-lakes region of South Sudan, has suffered at the hands of tribal war now for over a decade. Young men from within the community turn to violence using cattle raiding, cattle theft, and revenge killing as the only way of solving their disputes, which causes instability and displacement within the villages.

Most NGO’s and humanitarian agencies are unable to work under such distressful conditions, causing them to only operate within the urban areas where security is available. Because of this, schools and health centers have become abandoned within the village. Nearly all families within the rural area live under the chronic poverty line and cannot afford urban school fees and health services—fracturing the very social fabric of the community that allows individuals to have their basic needs met.

South Sudanese women and children are the very ones that pay the highest price during this tribal chaos and are the ones who are most vulnerable to physical and emotional sickness, poverty, and premature death. Traumatized by the war, many of them suffer from lack of self-worth and feel hopeless by not having the capacity to bring change to their own lives and family.

As we met with local churches, we held a vision seminar for all who were interested in implementing our model. Through leader development, we equipped and trained the pastors and local leaders to conduct surveys within their community and strategize how they were going to meet the most felt needs of the surrounding community. It was clear that health service and education were the ways in which they were going to engage the community.

Five years later, 30 churches have been empowered and 250 local leaders have been trained to initiate church-based development. More than 15,000 sick people every year are served by two health posts and 405 vulnerable children are being provided with primary-level education.

We are now excited to share that the local leadership within Rumbek has birthed and registered Christian Health and Education Empowerment Ministry (CHEEM) on February 15, 2017 as the faith-based organization working with churches addressing the economic challenges in the area. This includes providing basic quality education and health care services to the poor and vulnerable families as a sustainability tool for transformation and empowerment to the community at large in Rumbek.

The partner churches—through the community committee along with the Training of Trainers (TOT) graduates have made encouraging steps towards self-reliance and ownership of the program in the midst of war and displacement. As we celebrate the birth and registration of CHEEM, we are calling all of our partners to pray for this sustainable initiative, as a lot still remains to be done for the work in Rumbek to be sustainable.

To read through our full 2016 Annual Report with additional stories like the CHEEM in Rumbek—CLICK HERE



Prove It!

October 28th, 2016 | Posted by | Uncategorized

 Dr. Florence

by Dr. Florence Muindi with Introduction by Tom Bassford

 Introduction

“Are we as good as our marketing?”  Are we really creating sustainable change or are we just simply wrapping new versions of relief and betterment in the language of “sustainable transformation” and selling that to donors to raise the next round of dollars?

One of the disappointing realities that I’ve faced being a part of the church world is that we don’t always live up to our own theology about truth and integrity when it comes to marketing what we’re trying to do.  It’s as if we have convinced ourselves that the end justifies the means and therefore we don’t need objective, evidence-based evaluation of our work.  Anecdotes are enough…all other inquiries are unwelcome.

But I would argue that both the moral integrity of the church as well as the good we seek to do are at stake.  We must not only open ourselves to the research and critical evaluation of outside entities as a way to validate both the success and shortcomings of our work but seek it out and embed it in the very DNA of what we do.  Sure, we may have to adjust some of our marketing, admit some failures and even tweak our models but no endeavor, no matter how worthy, moves forward for long that isn’t grounded in an evidence-based reality of truth.  Come on church!  After all we are the ones who preach, “The truth shall set you free.”  Let’s take our own advice and lead the way by adopting a more evidence-based approach to the good we are trying to do.

Dr. Florence Muindi spoke at this year’s SATtalks about the work they are doing through Life In Abundance and one of the things I was deeply impressed with was her example of engaging an outside organization to evaluate the effectiveness of their work.  I asked her to write a short article about the courage it took and here’s her story…

Tom Bassford

Life In Abundance – Measuring Impact

 “Joshua, be strong and brave! You must lead these people so they can take the land that I promised their fathers I would give them. Be strong and brave. Be sure to obey all the teachings my servant Moses gave you. If you follow them exactly, you will be successful in everything you do.”   –  Joshua 1:6-8

Many of us in the mission field can relate to this passage, whether we are standing alone or side by side with a brother, sister or spouse, we feel as if the Lord is charging us to be strong, brave and to obey the calling He has on our lives.

I remember walking through the streets of Ethiopia as a missionary some 20 years ago and feeling completely overwhelmed by the needs I saw everywhere.  The realization came over me how ill equipped I was and that I could not do this on my own.  There had to be a better way and I found myself opening up to the idea that God might want to do something new.  It was then I let go and allowed God to take hold of my ministry and breath life into it by refocusing our efforts.

Overnight the mission and vision of Life In Abundance became clear… we were to challenge the local church and empower her to become the agent of change within the community. Although the new direction came overnight it took years of hard work, courage and obedience to work out the model and see the long-term impact.

As we journeyed with the Lord, He counseled and realigned along the way.  The ministry grew and so did the need for council, new board members and greater accountability for outcomes and long-term planning purposes.

Stories of change and empowerment began to roll in from community to community and we could not have been happier. For 20 years we marched on into battle while doors continued to open for countries that we never imagined we would be serving. Communities were being transformed and they were able to sustain themselves without our involvement. It felt as though the Lord had shown us a promise land for this ministry and we had arrived.  Success! Good job, “well done good and faithful servant”; something we all long to hear from our Heavenly Father.

And yet God is forever at work, refining the good work that He has begun in our personal lives as well as our ministry.  So it was with Life in Abundance, He was not finished refining us and just like our early steps of faith into a new model this refinement process took courage and obedience.

In 2015 as we set around the table with our board and strategic partners we were given a challenge unlike any we had encountered to date.  These wise and invested leaders challenged us to open our model and our claims of success to an outside organization for evaluation and validation of our claims.  Here’s what they said:

We have walked with Life in Abundance, we know you, we believe in your mission & model – but for the longevity of Life in Abundance… if you are going to come to the table and talk “community transformation” and “sustainable impact”, you need more than anecdotal evidence of success.  We advise that you a have study done of your work – measure the impact…”

You can imagine our concern.  What if the report does not capture what we believe the work is doing?  And then a whole stream of questions coming from a place of fear and uncertainty…Why do we need to prove something that we know works? What was the purpose of the study? Was it for validation or exaltation? Is it our concern or purpose to know the full fruit of our labor? Will this study derail the work we are called to do?

My life’s work! 20 years of it now put under certain scrutiny and knowing full well that we would need to be prepared to make adjustments to the model if the results were less than our expectations.  But God is faithful and once again He affirmed original challenge… “Be strong and brave, and obey.”

So, in June and July of 2015, we invited the Institute for Urban Initiatives to embark on a focused study to examine the extent to which our model of development has a lasting impact on the communities we served.  We settled in our hearts that, whatever the outcome, we would take it as Word from the Lord and make the necessary changes.  We would not claim something to be true that could not stand the scrutiny of honest evaluation.  After all, we are a people who believe the truth will set us free!  It is important for us to say this because the world is looking at the church and it expects us to be true and transparent with our claims.

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When the results came back we were overjoyed, they exceeded our expectations! We could not have written a better story or shared a testimony that would have done what this report has done for us. For 20 years we had only anecdotal evidence that our work was successful and had long-term, sustainable impact. But now there is evidence; written, documented proof that the church can be the agent of lasting change in a community. (To read the full report Click Here)

This whole process not only shined a light on the impact of our model but it has taught us the value of measuring results and opening ourselves to the evaluation of an outside organization.  It took courage and obedience to take this step but in doing so it has given us an even greater zeal for the work we are doing.  It has also reminded us that if we obey and heed the words to be strong and brave, He will do the rest.

 

 

Watch Dr. Muindi’s 2016 SATtalk – “The Bride Is the Hero”

SAT Talks 2016 – Dr. Florence Muindi from Significant Matters on Vimeo.



Launching Phase 3

April 30th, 2016 | Posted by | LIA News | Events | Kenya | LIA News | Uncategorized

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“Walking this ground and knowing that in 60 weeks this project will be completed stands as a testament to the faithfulness of God” – Dr. Florence Muindi

On April 7th Life in Abundance broke ground on the 3rd and final phase of the LIA Center in Kenya. Dr. Florence Muindi, President and CEO of Life In Abundance International and Dr. Samuel Mwangi, Chairman of the Building Committee and a member of the LIA International Board had the honor launching the project.

Many years ago, Dr. Florence Muindi, LIA’s founding president/CEO took a prayer walk along Lake Langano in Ethiopia. During that time, God asked her to dip her hand in the sand and grab a fistful. HE then revealed to her, “As many as are the grains of sand in your hand, so will be the leaders who will be empowered through the work of Life in Abundance”.

Phase 3 Ground BreakingDr. Florence Muindi and Dr. Samuel Mwangi breaking ground on Phase 3 site

The LIA Centers in Kenya and Jamaica are the establishment of God’s words to Dr. Muindi at Lake Langano. LIA’s training centers serve to train churches, organizations and community leaders around the world in LIA’s community development model and how to implement it in their own communities.

Phase 3 of the LIA Center, Kenya will be the accommodation wing for the center, having 21 rooms with a few additional meeting rooms and lounges. It has been a wonderful journey of faith as we work to see the LIA Center building project completed.

Phase 3ALIA Center Kenya Phase 3

As we broke ground for Phase 3 of the LIA Center, Kenya on April 7th, we were humbled and in awe of how far we have come and how many communities and lives will be changed and transformed from this place.

IMG_4821Dr. Florence Muindi and James Gatere handing over building project to the contractor

LIACenterPhase 1 & 2 of LIA Center Kenya



When Faith Intersects with Development

April 20th, 2016 | Posted by | Uncategorized

Sustainable impact in the Community Work of Life in Abundance International
Nairobi, Kenya, January 12, 2016:

Lia Community Impact

LIA Community Impact
“The Overall conclusion is clear: the community work established by LIA continues to flourish even after LIA is no longer present.” In all the sites we visited, there is no question that the people are engaged in effective and transformative ways to bring change to their communities.” – Urban Initiatives.

During June and July of 2015, Life in Abundance International (LIA) reached out to Urban Initiatives to facilitate a focused study on the countries that have been impacted by the community work of LIA and to verify the long-term sustainable impact their “wholistic” model has had on the most vulnerable families and children within those communities. The results were astonishing and monumental, not only were the communities able to sustain the work LIA had partnered with in initiating, but had surpassed those efforts and continued to develop their own initiatives once LIA had passed the baton. Education, environmental transformation, social engagement and spiritual transformation were all areas that were positively affected and forever changed by the work LIA.

About LIA
Life in Abundance (LIA) is a non-government organization (NGO) whose mission is “to mobilize the local Church to restore health, renew hope, and inspire lasting transformation for the world’s most vulnerable children and families”. Life in Abundance currently works in Africa and the Caribbean, with a pilot program in the US. Since 2000, LIA has partnered with foundations, churches and individual donors to implement development projects that not only transform individuals, but also result in lasting change for their communities. To view the full report Click Here to download the PDF.



LIA Center, Kenya Groundbreaking – April 7th 2016

March 10th, 2016 | Posted by | LIA News | Events | Home Page | LIA News | Uncategorized
Proposed LIA Center, Kenya

Proposed LIA Center, Kenya

Many years ago, Dr. Florence Muindi, LIA’s founding president/CEO took a prayer walk along Lake Langano in Ethiopia. During that time, God asked her to dip her hand in the sand and grab a fistful. HE then revealed to her, “As many as are the grains of sand in your hand, so will be the leaders who will be empowered through the work of Life in Abundance”.

The LIA Centers in Kenya and Jamaica are the establishment of God’s words to Dr. Muindi at Lake Langano. LIA’s training centers serve to train churches, organizations and community leaders around the world with LIA’s community development model and how to implement it in their own communities. This is a model that has been implemented, refined, monitored, evaluated and replicated with hundreds of churches in twelve countries across Africa and the Caribbean.

Ground Breaking

Former LIA International Board Chairman Dr. Peter Okalet and Dr. Florence Muindi with members of the LIA Senior Leadership Team at the Phase 1 & Phase 2 groundbreaking ceremony on May 4th 2014.

We know first-hand that training is the key factor to empowering people to participate in and own the transformation of their community. This is why developing our training centers is central to the mission of LIA. It is our goal that through our training centers, ministries in various communities, countries and continents can be equipped to serve the poor and the vulnerable for the long term.

Clerk of Works, Nelson

Nelson, the Clerk of Works overseeing construction of Phase 1 & 2

On April 7th Life in Abundance will be breaking ground on the 3rd and final phase of the LIA Center in Kenya. Phase 3 will be the accommodation wing for the center, having 21 rooms with a few additional meeting rooms and lounges. It has been a wonderful journey of faith as we work to see the LIA Center building project completed and we continue to see the favor of God on this vision. We’re most grateful to the partners and friends of LIA who have believed in this vision and have come alongside us to cater for 45% of the building cost of Phase 3. This is no small miracle and we are so grateful.

We still have a long way to go and funding for the building project is still coming in. So please celebrate with us as we break ground on April 7th and pray for God’s hand to be on all aspects of this project: from the provision of funding, to the approval of plans, to the laying of bricks. Thank you for choosing to be a part of this journey with us.

LIA Center, Kenya

Life in Abundance Center, Kenya

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with the project.

 

 

 



Q&A with Joy Peterson; LIA’s new Executive Assistant

December 17th, 2015 | Posted by | LIA News | Uncategorized | USA

Joy Peterson joins LIA’s USA team to serve as our new Executive Assistant. We are so thrilled to have Joy as part of our US team and we asked her a few questions so that you may get to know a little more about what drew her to LIA.

Tell us about your calling and conviction to serve the Kingdom.  What were you doing before LIA?
The beauty of the gospel is in the power that saves us and also sustains us. Daily I’m reminded of the grace on my life. In that covering, I am learning to lay down my life for others.

Personally, my calling has never been attached to a vocation or even to a specific ministry, but is an overflow of my heart. As I’m being discipled and refined by the Trinity, I’m able to serve and walk with others. My heart has been broken for women whose only hope is Jesus. I love seeing how the gospel shapes lives and gives hope to our brokenness.

Before joining LIA, I served at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY as the HR Administrative Assistant and Executive Assistant to the Lead Team Pastor of Operations.

What drew you to LIA?
While working at Southeast, I observed LIA through the Missions Ministry. I began learning how the transformational development model of LIA is a powerful framework for sustainable work rooted in the Gospel and empowered by the local church. I was excited for the opportunity to join in with the work being accomplished and help advance the kingdom through tactical support with the US team.

What are you most looking forward to in your role with LIA?
It’s humbling to step into a ministry with a long history of prayer, sacrifice and steadfastness in the Lord. I’m excited to serve with brothers and sisters across cultures and countries all united under the name of Jesus.

Joy & family

What do you do other than work on the operation side for LIA?
I am married to Eric, and we have the amazing privilege of raising three girls, Alexa (14), Kiera (10) and Avery (9). This season of life is full of transporting kids that have a far more exciting social calendar than I do.

 



Q&A with Amy Walker; LIA’s Director of Church and Missions Engagement

December 10th, 2015 | Posted by | Uncategorized

Initially serving as LIA’s Teams Coordinator, Amy Walker, has now stepped into her new role as Director of Church and Missions Engagement. We’re excited to have Amy stepping into this new role and we thought to ask her a few questions so that you may get to know her a little better.

Kenya field pic

Amy during a mission trip to Kenya

Tell us about your calling and conviction to serve the Kingdom.  What were you doing before LIA.

    My calling and conviction to serve and advance the Kingdom started when I was baptized into Christ. When you come to the realization of his Kingdom and what it is about, what other response do you have other than give your life to advancing it? Honestly, I never thought I would be serving the Kingdom by serving and working for a ministry. Before coming to LIA, I worked at the corporate office of a local bank in their marketing department. I am humbled daily that the Lord has brought me into the LIA family.

What drew you to LIA?

    In 2010, I took my first mission trip to Kenya to serve alongside Life in Abundance. On that trip, I had the opportunity to not only hear about LIA’s model, but to see it in action. I took another short-term trip in 2011 and then participated in the Mi2 internship for the summer of 2012.

    My favorite aspect of LIA’s model is how we partner with and work through the local church. Experiencing this model of empowerment and community transformation was a game changer for me and has forever changed and shaped my perspective of how to engage in local and international missions.

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

    Before I began overseeing church and para-church partnerships with LIA, I served as the Teams Coordinator. In that role, I was able to begin developing relationships with the folks that work for our church partners. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to use my super relational personality to grow and strengthen those relationships and to do life with my brothers and sisters. Another aspect I’m looking forward to is developing new paths of engagement with our church and para-church partners.

 DSC_0056 3Amy with her husband Steve

What do you do other than oversee partnerships for LIA?

I just got married 8 months ago (yeah!!) so my husband, Steve, and I have been in a sweet season of being newlyweds. Steve and I have recently started attending a new church so we are building community and planting roots there. I love spending time in nature, cooking, reading, and drinking a great cup of coffee.



Prayers answered; LIA – Kenya refocuses its healthcare strategy

June 4th, 2015 | Posted by | Uncategorized

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In April this year Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the graduation of 10,736 recruits at the National Youth Service College. The National Youth Service (NYS) is a government program that was reestablished in 2013 to empower youth by involving them in important national projects. These include service in the armed forces, national reconstruction programs, disaster response and participation in transformative economic activities.

In his speech President Kenyatta commended the NYS recruits for the new reconstruction and transformation economic projects they had started in Kibera, Mathare, Kiandutu and Nyalenda. All of these projects started in 2014, and what makes this so special is that all of these communities are the same communities in which LIA works!

In fact one of our church partners in Kibera mentioned that the new roads being built, the garbage dumps being cleared, the sewer lines being connected, the new government services station being opened, they are all along the same path that the Pastor’s Fellowship would do their prayer walks. The alleys and byways that they would walk through praying for God’s transformative work have been torn down, cleaned out and are being rebuilt. Kibera is changing in a way that didn’t seem possible.

We cannot underestimate the immense power of prayer. As Proverbs says, it is the Lord, through our prayers, who truly does command the hearts of Kings.

Part of the government’s strategy in the slum upgrading projects for these communities is to set up primary healthcare medical clinics that are highly subsidized. These new government clinics have been mandated to meet a high standard of care, and bridge the gap that our wonderful staff in our LIA clinics and the medical teams that so frequently come and partner with us have filled for so long.

So as the government comes in to take up its role in these communities, LIA has decided to gradually scale back the primary health care services we provide in order to allow the government to take up its responsibility to provide reliable healthcare for the communities we serve.

This refocusing will allow LIA clinics in Kenya to bolster various medical care services that the government has yet to take up, primarily dental care. As LIA – Kenya transitions the team is excited for this new chapter as the ministry is being called to more closely to walk along side the government to better serve the communities we work with and bring about sustainable transformation.



Welcome: Carley Buckingham – Director of Operations

April 13th, 2015 | Posted by | LIA News | Uncategorized | USA

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Carley Buckingham joined the LIA team as the Director of Operations at the beginning of April.

She will be working closely with Tom Kemner. Carley is equipped with 15 years of finance, accounting, HR and leadership experience.

We asked Carley to share a bit about herself so you might get to know a bit more about her:

Tell us about your calling and conviction to serve the Kingdom. What were you doing before LIA?
I desire no other path than to serve the Kingdom vocationally, pastorally, and as I go daily. I met Jesus in the local church (Southeast Christian Church) at the age of 15 – baptized in the Gulf of Mexico at 17 and began a relentless pursuit of the purest desire to (1) Align with the Trinity (2) Walk as Jesus walked (3) Advance His Kingdom. Given His grace poured out over my life, I have deep love for alignment with the Trinity as well as the local church.

I called Southeast Christian Church my church home for ten years before serving as HR Director at SECC. To call one place home for an extended time, to meet Jesus there, to advance His Kingdom and to tangibly see the beauty of “one another”—it was a pure joy and delight.

Southeast is also where I met Life In Abundance. This is another of the good gifts and strategic gifts I received from Him hands!

What drew you to LIA?
While serving in HR at Southeast, I also provided oversight to our Internship Program. In 2008 we were in the process of reworking our internship experience, and wanted to add a missions component. I went to Ben Thornley who serves on the Missions team and simply confessed, “I know very little about missions, models, methods, etc., however the Leadership Team has been prayerful in overhauling the Internship experience and we would like to add a mission trip/mission experience to their year…” Within a matter of minutes Ben cast vision for a healthy missions model and recommended our Interns to see and experience the work of LIA boots-on-the-ground.

In February 2009 we embarked on our maiden voyage of inviting our interns annually to partner with the Lord and the work of LIA in Kenya – to date serving in 3 regions, Thika, Makueni and Kisumu.

The model the Lord has given Dr. Muindi is God-breathed. I’ve served on teams that entered communities that are new early in their transformational partnership with LIA, and I’ve served on teams where LIA is in the process of phasing out. I can testify to communities being transformed, hope being breathed, empowerment, sustainability, and the local church championed and Jesus reigning.

KisumuKiddos

What are you most looking forward to in your role with LIA?
Where do I begin and how do I choose? I look forward to so many things. Firstly, partnering with the Lord as He builds the US team and expands it’s capacity to serve the program staff. Secondly, telling the powerful and evolving story of LIA to those who have emotionally and spiritually invested in the ministry. Thirdly, casting vision and seeing the tent expand for LIA (Isaiah 54:2-3) in new terrain, partnerships, and communities transformed for His name and His renown. Finally, I am looking forward to being led and challenged in partnership by Dr. Muindi, our US Council and International Board – all striving diligently to carry out Christ’s mission to give life in abundance to the most vulnerable.

What do you do other than lead operations for LIA?
Scott and I have just relocated to Jacksonville, FL. This move is what caused my transition from Southeast Christian Church and opened the door for the Lord to present this opportunity with LIA. With deep roots in Louisville, KY this upcoming season will be full of re-rooting in Jacksonville, FL as we call it home; connecting with family in the region, building community, finding a local church. The Lord opened 5,000 doors for Scott and I to make this move…now we’ll root and build!

ScottCarley



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.”