Widowhood is difficult in any country, but in third world countries the issues are compounded. The widow must deal with immediate survival and often she is not allowed to remain on the land she farmed with her husband because the land reverts back to the husband’s family. There is no life insurance policies, pensions or social security.
Most families exist hand to mouth by running a small farm. The widow of the late Bishop Bomani went from being the wife of a bishop to a widow with no means of support when the Bishop died in an accident. She eventually was able to raise chickens and go into the village to sell eggs to support herself and her family.
This past May, we established a fund to help widows earn money for their families. This idea came as a result of training by Judy Irwin, a widow herself, who went to Tanzania to teach seminars for widows on dealing with grief. She saw the need to go beyond that. The diocese suggested that we consider a program of micro loans and have a trained deaconess manage it. The women must set up a business plan and be prepared to pay the loan back to help others. They also felt that the program needs to be managed and directed by a deaconess from the diocese.
When discussing this need we received some money from Stella Hirji from African Trails travel agency. Stella has been our good friend and has planned all our in-country travel and Safari’s for the last 14 years. She is a business woman but also a widow. She gave a donation to begin the project. It was christened The Naomi Project.
In the first 6 months, ten widows have received micro loans for various sources of revenue. This has included selling charcoal, soaps, fruits, vegetables in the marketplace, raising chickens for eggs and meat, and starting a small catering business. The ladies are proud to make their loan repayments to help others and become self-sufficient. A grant has been approved by the LWML to purchase sewing machines and train widows to sew and sell their products in the marketplace.
For further information about this project, contact Bob Allen. Check out the website for more information, http://elct-selvd.org.