Effective community development - the kind that restores health, renews hope and inspires lasting transformation - requires integrated, sustainable solutions that address the root causes and unique circumstances in each community.
Click on the icons below to find out more about our programs and the role each plays this transformational work.
View our Impact map to see all the communities where LIA currently serves.
Education is the basis for development. All LIA initiatives include community-wide seminars and targeted educational interventions, depending upon the identified needs, assets and capacity within a community. Specific attention is always given to developing the practical theology of our community church partners.
- Establishing sustainable and quality church-based elementary schools
- Biblical worldview courses for church volunteers
- Theological training for partner church pastors (envisioning, Training of Trainers, two-year diploma program)
- Tutoring and education for street children
- Structured tutoring for at-risk children
- Community health trainings focused on disease prevention and health promotion
- Providing economic empowerment trainings
- Providing English as a second language courses
- Providing relevant focus-group based trainings per identified training needs
Education Is Empowering
LIA church partners overcome unique cultural barriers and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS in order to protect expecting mothers and their babies.
In 2010, local church partners in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia, a town 80 miles outside the capital, Addis Ababa, identified HIV/AIDS as a primary concern in the community. In addition to extremely poor health, the people of Debre Birhan experiences significant social burdens like food insecurity, orphan and vulnerable children and insufficient personal income. These struggles are further complicated because many of the families are headed my widowed or divorced mothers.
Over the course of the next few years, LIA supported the local Church to implement a community-based awareness and prevention program for women in the community in an effort to help minimize the number of people who contract the devastating disease, and worse, passing it on to their unborn children.
This initiative, as with all LIA initiatives, utilized an integrated approach incorporating aspects of healthcare, education and economic empowerment uniquely designed for the people of Debre Birhan. As LIA’s church partners set out to help educate the women in these female-headed homes about HIV/AIDS and transmission to their babies, it quickly became apparent that a unique cultural barrier threatened the program’s success – in this community, it was considered dangerous to disclose your pregnancy at an early stage, as the believe it would result in miscarriage. Furthermore, women were fearful of being tested for HIV/AIDS because of the stigma and discrimination that typically accompanied a positive diagnosis.
LIA and its church partners took into consideration these unique contributing factors and implemented a new strategy designed to mobilize pregnant mothers to seek prenatal treatment much earlier and agree to HIV/AIDS testing. This strategy included home-to-home visits by 18 LIA-trained community health workers helping to educate women on the medical truths about prenatal care and preventing the transmission of the debilitating disease onto their children, and encouraging voluntary testing, care and medicine, as needed. Government health extension workers were also involved in the education process, as to ensure program sustainability and growth over time. Additionally, Church-based group meetings were held to further educate the community on these common misconceptions.
In less than two year’s time, the program has already experienced tremendous success. In fact, during the last period of implementation, 96% of the women in Debre Birhan who were known to be pregnant consented to HIV testing and 93% who were diagnosed positive are enrolled in care and support programs in order to ensure that their babies are healthy and all measures possible are taken to avoid transferring the disease on.
Read more about LIA's work in Debre Birhan here.
In Debre Birhan, Ethiopia, a 14-year-old boy receives an education while also learning about God's love, self-worth and hope for his future.
If you ask Dawit about his past, he visibly shutters. The only reason he makes an effort to keep the memories stored is to reflect on how far he’s come and what brought him to this place. Dawit Pawlos, at 24-year-old biology teacher in Ethiopia, is proud of his life today. Not because he’s of particular affluence or prominence, but because he is a confident and contributing citizen of his native country.
He didn’t always have such a bright future – in fact, he contests his early teenage years were the darkest of his life. At a very young age, Dawit had to learn how to care for himself – he was raised in a fatherless household where his mother lived with HIV/AIDS and was often confined to her bed. Lacking parental care and love, he began acting out in the only way he knew how.
By the 8th grade, he had been dismissed from school for misconduct and regularly found himself spending his days on the streets of Debre Birhan, Ethiopia. At a mere 14 years, Dawit was left void of hope, direction or support. He was forced to forgo a “typical” youth and find means to provide for himself.
It was around this time, in 2002, that Dawit was asked to join LIA’s inaugural Street Children program, an initiative aimed to help at-risk youth get on the path to a healthy, self sufficient and sustainable future. During his nearly three years in the program, Dawit received counseling, food, primary healthcare, school supplies and tutoring. Dawit’s family was economically empowered and his mother received medical attention for her illness. Together, these elements provided the necessary foundation for Dawit, and other youth participating in the program, to improve their conditions for the long-term.
He admits that he was initially skeptical of LIA and its church partners. He assumed the program only existed for religious purposes. Eventually, he came to understand LIA’s unique approach to developing healthy communities – practically and spiritually. When he graduated from the program at the age of 17, Dawit had committed his life to Christ, graduated from high school and was equipped with the knowledge he needed to lead a healthy lifestyle.
According to Dawit, not only was his life changed, but the project empowered the lives of many families, helping to provide a sustainable future for the community at large.
“The intervention delivered me from shame, low self-esteem and hopelessness,” he says.
Today, Dawit enjoys life as a tutor for another LIA street children initiative in Ethiopia where he can set a healthy example for the future generations, one transformation at a time.
Read more about LIA's work in Debre Birhan here.
A Fruitful Future
A small church-led preschool in Thika, Kenya, is helping to restore hope and transform the whole community.
A Fruitful Future
Branching off the main highway, a bumpy dirt road leads to isolated villages scattered across Kenya’s remote countryside that make up Thika district.
This is a region of great contrast. Life appears from the outside to be easy, peaceful and quiet. Thatch or clay brick homes are spaced nicely, allowing each family a plot of land to grow food in the fertile soil, and to graze goats or cattle.
Despite being blessed with wonderful natural resources and beauty though, many residents live in extreme poverty. Families cannot afford to send their children to school, and sufficient food is often scarce or absent during the dry seasons. HIV/AIDS continues to carve a destructive path leaving children orphaned to fend for themselves. For many in this beautiful community, survival is a daily undertaking.
In 2004, Rose Mutua, a local church leader in Thika, participated in LIA’s 10-day Training of Trainers program. Despite Rose’s own challenges, Rose’s eyes were opened to God’s calling and she began to view her community not as a place that is forever poverty stricken, but rather as a place where God has blessed people with resources and skills to help themselves and to help each other.
Over the next few years, Rose took an audit of the communities greatest needs and soon felt called to serve those most broken, the children. She established a preschool in the church that would equip youth ages three to six to advance to primary school and excel, setting the stage for long-term community transformation in Thika.
The preschool was so successful that the local primary school began to persecute her, even to the point where she was required to close the school until she could build a new pit latrine for the children to use. Together, the community and LIA provided resources to complete the construction and the school reopened shortly after.
Today, the school thrives – it’s filled to capacity with other children hoping to attend. The youth, who previously would not have been able to afford school of any kind, are now advancing to primary school and winning academic awards in the public education system in Kenya. As a greater impact, parents appreciate the preschool and are more hopeful about their children’s and community’s future. Rose has noticed an increase in parents wanting to contribute to their children’s education and improving the community.
Furthermore, many families in Thika have come to know God’s love and compassion through their involvement with the school. Although life continues to be difficult in Thika, hope is being restored; community members are learning to care for each other and are growing in their understanding of God’s purpose for their lives.