– Anne Landers
Life In Abundance International, commonly referred to as LIA, is an African-founded, faith-based community development organization that exists to mobilize the local church to restore health, renew hope and inspire lasting transformation for Africa’s most vulnerable families. The final result is true transformation – the kind that allows people to live life more abundantly, as Jesus intended.
Working in more than 30 communities in eight African countries and the Caribbean, LIA serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.
The organization has pioneered a transformational development model that requires community ownership and sustainable solutions. This unique model cultivates local leadership through the Church and requires the participation and ownership of the community itself.
In partnership with the Church and civic leaders, LIA helps determine communities’ most significant needs and then trains, supports and works alongside community members to meet those needs for the long-term. Specifically, LIA trains, equips and walks with local churches throughout Africa and the Caribbean to:
- Promote health and prevent disease
- Empower the poor with economic opportunities
- Equip the vulnerable to break the cycle
- Educate the marginalized
The goal is that these long-term solutions address the root causes of poverty in these communities, with a Kingdom focus in mind. With the church at the center, and multi-faceted solutions, the physical and spiritual brokenness of the people in the communities is repaired through both Word and deed.
When a program has matured and development is taking root, a natural multiplying effect occurs. New programs are implemented in the community, while the mature program is often replicated in another nearby community, linking the people together for long-term support.
The result is powerful: local leadership participates in identifying their needs, assets and solutions. After walking with LIA through the process, that same leadership is equipped to meet the needs of its community in a sustainable way. Preventative actions are implemented, not just curative actions, and the community begins to replicate the ones that are most effective. As a whole, the community is healthier and the people have a better picture of what abundant life looks like.
Take for example, the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. It is the second largest slum in Africa and thousands of people call it home.
LIA has an established relationship with several churches in this community. In developing the leadership and identifying the community’s greatest needs, it became evident that economic empowerment was a primary need for the community.
LIA worked with the Kibera Pastors Fellowship to create the Konjo shoe project. The local churches selected the most vulnerable members of the Kibera community – those who are un/underemployed, who are caring for children and are facing the toughest challenges – to be trained how to create a product that could be sold in the marketplace. These people, primarily women, are selected based on their desire to acquire new skills and knowledge, and their willingness to earn an income by playing a role in the production of Konjo Shoes.
These participants have also been taught business, savings and manufacturing skills. These newly acquired tools enable them to not only provide for their families now, but also equip them to save and dream for the future, so that they might be able to set out on their own. They’ve gained the tools, confidence, dignity and capital necessary to create their own entrepreneurial venture.
Because of the Konjo shoes project:
- People living in cycle of poverty are now breaking free to provide for their own families.
- Under-utilized resources are being restored and reused.
- Mothers who once accepted “free” shoes now have the dignity and self-worth to be able buy their own children’s’ shoes.
- Previously unemployed people are going to work each day, and getting a glimpse of their purpose and value.
Konjo Shoes are not the end product. Rather, LIA’s vision is that it would serve as a catalyst toward economic independence and life in abundance. And these types of projects are just one part of LIA’s transformational development model.
The end result of this multi-faceted approach is a transformed community of eternally changed individuals – people who have been trained and educated. They feel empowered and supported. They are providing for their families. They have more dignity and self-worth, and are living life more abundantly. And best yet, these individuals are becoming agents of change in their community.
According to LIA, that is what true transformation looks like for the Kingdom.
Anne Landers is the Manager of Communications for Life in Abundance International.