How Umoja Works
Umoja is a best practice approach that works in the Cambodian context.
The identified core problem related to a mindset of poverty has been addressed by the Umoja approach. Christians have increased dignity, capacity and initiative to help themselves solving problems creatively themselves using lateral thinking.
Therefore some have started to share their insights with their non-Christian neighbors in the same village while some facilitators even went to other villages.
“Umoja” is the Swahili word for being of one mind” and expresses the concepts of working together and unity. Umoja is about bringing energy and excitement to churches and communities concerning the positive changes they can make for themselves. It seeks to build on the resources they have and encourages the discovery of new skills and expertise within a community.
Far too often, development projects are dependent on injections of outside aid and often leave individuals and communities worse off. Umoja seeks to do the opposite: inspiring and equipping local people with a vision for determining their own future with their own resources.
Umoja has been developed and tested in East Africa, the Umoja approach has been pioneered and tested in Cambodia by International Cooperation Cambodia’s (ICC) Village Integrated Development Project (VIDP). ICC is a locally based Christian development organization committed to serving the least-served across the Kingdom of Cambodia.
With various degrees of support and cooperation from ICC it has also been piloted by other local and international organizations in rural and urban contexts. In addition, VIDP’s Umoja approach has been compared with four other integral mission projects from a total of three organizations operating in Cambodia.
As a result of this positive feedback, in this project cycle, VIDP proposes to upscale in two dimensions:
Benefits to the Community
- Sense of purpose.
- Sustainable change.
- Sense of hope and well being.
- Greater ability to adjust to changes in culture and the environment
- Improved community relationships.
Benefits of Umoja: Umoja builds on the strengths and hopes of a church group that want to make a difference in their community. There are a number of benefits to the church and community of doing Umoja.
Benefits to the Church
- Grows as a positive influence within the community.
- Helps the church to reflect on the Bible and its role to meet the needs of others.
- Helps identify resources in the church.
- Builds relationships.
- Confidence is built by working in a team.
- Helps the church become a growing community, sharing experiences and achievements.