As our 2013 Mi2 interns prepare to embark on their trip to Kenya next week, we asked LIA’s administrative coordinator, Nicole Ponton, to share about her Mi2 experience just two years ago:
At the very beginning of 2011, I was discouraged. I had just returned from an amazing time studying abroad and waiting around to walk for graduation. I was working a job that I was not passionate about, and was searching for employment in Africa or Latin America with human rights nonprofits. Starting to give up on the idea of being hired by a nonprofit I cared about, I decided to start volunteering and pool my resources for valuable advice.
One afternoon, during a coffee meeting with my mentor, she suggested that I speak to the vice president of her good friend’s non-profit. I agreed, thinking that nothing would come of it but excited to learn more about this “Life in Abundance”, and thankfully God had a nice surprise for me. This meeting over coffee led to an interview, and then invitation to apply for an internship. Before I knew it, I had been accepted into the Mi2 program to spend three months in Kenya with six other like-minded young adults from around the country, getting to work side-by-side with the LIA Kenya staff.
Immediately, I started thinking of all the things I could do, or bring, or teach, or work on – whatever would bring more value to this already great opportunity. Clearly my messiah complex (though unintentional) was in full swing and God’s plans had fallen on the back burner. Thankfully, there were controls in place to reign in any crazy ideas we Mi2’s had and our short retreat, during which we were all introduced and spiritually prepared for our adventure, was very humbling.
As soon as we touched down in the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, we were ready to go to work, but God called us to slow down. Way down.
Instead of going right “to work,” we went through a two-week training led by the wonderful staff of both the LIA Kenya and headquarters staff, and visited the Kibera slum only a few short hours out of the week. In retrospect, this experience was really perfectly planned by the staff and God, and thankfully we were all eased into working alongside the staff and volunteers instead of being thrown into the fire. I do admit though- at the time it was extremely frustrating. Seeing so many injustices experienced by an estimated 1 million people crammed into 1.5 square miles of land, feeling 100% powerless is not very easy, and I think we initially missed the hope that the individuals we were visiting proudly owned.
As the training came to a close, God’s work and light in the Kibera community began to surface. When we moved throughout the country over those three amazing months, He continued to teach us how He can transform and restore dignity to communities and what our roles were in His plan.
We traveled to more than eight locations, making wonderful friends along the way who challenged us in our prayer lives, our personal lives and helped us grow much closer to Christ. They also took us on some amazing hiking and community adventures. Witnessing individuals regain dignity and strength and learning how Christ was mobilizing the local church through LIA completely changed all of our perspectives about how God wanted us to fulfill our callings in the Kingdom.
Needless to say, the messiah complex had (thankfully) been broken down and God had become the center. By the end of the summer, all of us were emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausted, but filled with joy, taking both precious and hilarious memories with us into the next chapter.
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!
Charity Navigator, America’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities, just awarded Life In Abundance its highest rating for sound fiscal management, good governance, and commitment to accountability and transparency.
This is the first time Charity Navigator has reviewed LIA and we are honored to receive the prestigious 4-star rating, which only 25 percent of US based nonprofits are awarded.
View Charity Navigator’s review, or learn more about LIA’s financial accountability policies and our commitment to give our best to our donors.
On March 22nd and 23rd, more than 600 people gathered in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the intersection of fashion and empowerment. Organized by California-based non-profit Freedom and Fashion, the two day event showcased a fashion show dedicated to those interested in social enterprise in the heart of L.A.’s fashion district.
LIA was able to attend the events, sharing Konjo sandals and how the project is providing economic empowerment to one of the world’s poorest communities. We met artists, fashion designers and consumers interested in making a meaningful impact through fashion.
We are honored and humbled to have taken a part in the Freedom and Fashion Collective. We were inspired to meet so many people in search of products that empower those who are making them – which is what Konjo is all about.
To learn more about Konjo, the process and the stories of the people who make them, please visit Konjo.is.
Read more about the Freedom and Fashion Collective here.
In cased you missed the 2013 Spring Ministry Update Webinar, we’ve posted the recording in our Resource Library.
It’s worth setting aside an hour this week to hear about all the great developments the Lord has granted for LIA!
This work would not be possible without your support. Thank you for coming alongside LIA.
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.
On March 23, LIA is proud to participate in the first annual social enterprise conference, the Freedom & Fashion Collective, in Los Angeles, CA.
According to Freedom & Fashion, the conference’s goal “is to educate, equip and empower various non-profit and for-profit social enterprises, activists, artists, students, faith groups and the general public” on how to be a part of the solution to end various human rights violations.
The conference will feature more than 30 speakers from the West Coast and will also include a Ceremony Runway Show the day prior.
If you’re in the Los Angeles area, come out and say hello and perhaps buy a pair of Konjos!
More details about the conference can be found here.
The latest issue of Beyond Relief is out now! This first issue of the new year focuses on Kenya, where LIA is headquartered, and shares lots of great information about:
- The country of Kenya
- LIA’s programs
- Stories of transformation
- LIA news
- Highlight on economic empowerment initiatives
Read it now.
If you have feedback about what you would like to read in future issues, please send us your thoughts.
If you want to have future issues of Beyond Relief mailed to you, sign up today.
We are proud to announce This Is My Normal, one of LIA’s documentaries, has been selected to show in the first annual Justice Film Festival, part of The Justice Conference Feb. 22-24, 2013.
This Is My Normal explores two primary questions: “What is poverty?” and “What is normal for the world’s poor?” through the eyes of those living in Mathare Valley, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya.
We are honored to have the documentary show among such esteemed documentaries and movies.
If you plan to attend the Justice Conference, be sure to attend the Film Festival as well and catch the screening of This Is My Normal at 12:25 p.m. on February 24.
Read the complete details about the festival in the press release here.
For more information about This Is My Normal, visit thisismynormal.com.
Over the last year, we’ve made great strides to keep you better informed on LIA’s progress and the work we are doing. This year, we are continuing to build on those efforts, so you can celebrate the progresses we share together and all that God enables us to do for the Kingdom.
Dr. Muindi wrote a letter to the LIA family casting the vision for the ministry in 2013 – where LIA is headed, what we are excited about and the challenges we continue to face. Read the letter in its entirety.
If you have questions or feedback for Dr. Muindi, please sent them to us here.