AFRICAN CHILD TRUST
African Child Trust, as its name implies, works intensively for the care and betterment of orphans in several countries in Africa.
They are also concerned for the widows, many of whom struggle valiantly to care for their fatherless children in a society that despises widows and offers them no support.
The ACT creates business opportunities for widows, helping them identify their own skills and interests and then building on these.
In some countries the women have elected to form a cooperative and pool their resources for greater capacity. In other countries the women work alone but with mentorship and support from ACT.
The Widow's Perspective from the African Child Trust website, helps us to hear the pain of the women themselves.
Please read more on their website about how African Child Trust is creating a better future for widows.
AVEGA came into being after the Rwandan genocide in 1994, because of the huge needs of the widows, all of whom were severely traumatized and most of whom had been raped. The number of widows was staggering, since the brutality of the genocide had targeted men and boys.
AVEGA became a sanctuary for women who desperately needed to talk to someone who understood, needed medical care, needed ways to find their feet economically, and perhaps most of all needed justice to enable them to heal from the trauma of what they had suffered.
AVEGA has creatively provided all this for widows, as this must-read article shows.
AVEGA partners with SURF (the Survivors Fund) https://survivors-fund.org.uk. Their website will give you a lot of information about the situation in Rwanda.
In the midst of the recent Covid-19 crisis the fragility of traumatized people was evident everywhere, so AVEGA was very busy making counselling services accessible in whatever way they could during the “stay-at-home” orders.
Please spend some time listening to the heartbeat of this organization. https://avega-agahozo.org
CHRISTIAN CARE FOR WIDOWS, WIDOWERS,
THE AGED AND ORPHANS
[October 2021: The website for CCWAO is currently unavailable. I hope they will soon be telling their story again online.]
Christian Care for Widows, Widowers, the Aged and Orphans is a Nigerian organization which seeks to change the desperation and sadness of these marginalized groups into joy and hope, motivated very strongly by their Christian belief that calls them to care for widows and orphans.
They do this by creating fellowship centres in villages where the target population will gather regularly for social support, Bible study and spiritual fellowship.
They also provide counselling as needed, small business loans and skills training to empower widows to earn a living, and scholarships for children of widows who have the potential to go far in their education.
COME TOGETHER WIDOWS AND ORPHANS FOUNDATION KENYA
Come Together Widows and Orphans Foundation Kenya was founded by a young Kenyan widow, Dianah Kamande, herself a victim of domestic violence, who was motivated by her experience to empower many others suffering the same fate.
Currently the organization works with over a million widows in Kenya.
It creates awareness of the plight of widows, advocates for laws and practices that uphold their dignity and rights, empowers the women themselves with entrepreneurial skills and support, helps to ensure education for their children, and represents the needs of this unique group to the international community.
The range of their initiatives is truly impressive.
You'll want to spend some time on their website (https://cometogewoo.org) exploring the ways in which they support widows and victims of gender-based violence.
Don't forget to check out the lovely hand-crafted things they offer for sale in their online shop [temporarily unavailable. Keep checking back].
Here’s an example of what one person with a very big heart can do.
When Karen Lantz went to Uganda to visit her missionary son and his family, she was inspired to help the impoverished widows there. Her approach was very simple: buy a goat and give it to a widow and her family, so that the children would have nutritious milk and eventually the widow would have goats to sell.
goat the first year, Lantz has fundraised extensively so that the organization
has been able to give goats to more than 304 widow-led families (2018
numbers). Read more about it in this article, and on Karen's website http://www.helporphansandwidows.org.
HOPE FOR WIDOWS IN MALAWI
This organization does not have a website, only a Facebook page, and it deserves to be included in your browsing!
Their Mission Statement is:
Giving hope to widows through relationships and business skills so that they have a bright future for themselves and their children.
Fellowship groups within the local church provide the kind of social support that is usually denied widows, allow them to draw strength from their sisters in the same situation, and bring joy and hope back into their lives.
Through microloans and business skills training, Hope For Widows in Malawi empowers these widows to create a viable economic future for themselves and their children.
That all sounds rather commonplace until you watch this video by Amess, the founder (herself a widow) as she tells the history of this ministry, and how the vision continues to expand. It’s a lovely story of the hope that can come when one person sees a need, does the little she can to help, and sees the Lord make that “little” a blessing to a lot of women.
Their Facebook page is www.facebook.com/HOFOWIM.
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MISSION
International Justice Mission works in many countries around the world combating slavery, violence, and abuse that has gone unchecked for generations.
They do this by mobilizing grassroots partners and by training thousands of local police, lawyers, and other members of the judiciary to be sensitive to these issues and bring the full weight of the law to bear against the perpetrators, while providing trauma healing to survivors who have been rescued.
In Uganda IJM has worked intensively to bring an end to the common practice of land grabbing from widows. They have fought for the return of land and homes to many widows and orphans, and have brought criminal cases against those, usually relatives, who have been guilty of violence and intimidation against these widows and children.
Medical care and counselling is provided to the widows and their families as they are restored to their property; provision is made for the children to continue their education, and the widows are helped to start small businesses that will support their families’ needs.
Here’s a Fact Sheet about how IJM is changing the narrative for widows in Uganda.
Here’s the story of one widow in Uganda [thank you to staff at IJM Canada for this story]:
"Grace, a 27-year old mother of five children and a client of IJM in Uganda, became a victim of property grabbing after the death of her husband. Her brother-in-law drove her out of her home and off the small plot of land she cultivated. Without land, Grace could not farm to feed her children.
Desperate to get her property back and determined to make something happen, Grace decided to walk 40 kilometres to the government office in Kampala that oversees land ownership. She would answer questions and fill out paperwork, but the government officials always had more questions, and Grace always needed to come back.
IJM staff worked with her for six months to build a case that resulted in Grace’s brother-in-law voluntarily transferring the land back to Grace. Then they worked with Grace for two more years to ensure that she had an official title to the property in her own name to keep her protected for good."
story here. (Scroll down).
In a recent court case (2020) on behalf of another widow, the verdict was handed down in favour of the widow. But her antagonist ignored the ruling, attacked her and forced her off her land again. She now awaits another trial, in hopes of getting justice.
Here’s the story of a widow who was enslaved in India, and how she was set free through IJM’s intervention.
IJM invites you to give for a specific part of an operation to empower a destitute widow, or free someone from slavery, etc. Go to their Gift Catalogue and find many ways to give a gift that will transform a life.
RONA FOUNDATION https://www.ronafoundation.co.ke
“No woman should lose her rights and dignity because she lost her husband”
The RONA Foundation works in Kenya under the dynamic leadership of its founder and CEO, Roseline Orwa, who was widowed at a young age.
Because she herself experienced the devastating effects of widowhood, she has fought to bring about radical changes to the law in Kenya, as well as develop a unique and successful model for “reviving” widows-in-community which has been borrowed by many other agencies.
website is guaranteed to challenge and inspire you!
The Rona Foundation’s approach to empowering widows is powerfully depicted below:
THE ROSE OF SHARON FOUNDATION
You’ve heard of Bono, and you’ve heard of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Now meet one of the world’s richest women, Folorunso Alakija, who is similarly using her wealth and influence in response to God’s challenge to her to care for widows and orphans.
She started a foundation that provides interest-free loans and mentoring to widows in Nigeria, to start businesses and then ensure they flourish; it provides education for widows and orphans by means of scholarships all the way through university; it works to ensure that laws are passed, and then enacted, which protect the rights of widows.
Widows are educated as to what their rights are, and when they can’t afford legal help the Foundation provides that for them.
Medical outreaches provide medical treatment at very little or no cost to widows and their children.
Watch an interview with Folorunso Alakija on Nigerian TV talking about the work of the Foundation. Then go to their website to read more about their various initiatives (click on "Women Empowerment Program" under "Projects").
STEPHEN LEWIS FOUNDATION
The Stephen Lewis Foundation partners with many grassroots organizations in the fifteen countries in Africa hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Their goal is to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS throughout these countries and enable those who are the casualties to thrive.
While the SFL doesn’t make “widows” its single focus, it vigorously supports the amazing fighting spirit of the African grandmothers, thousands of whom are raising their orphaned grandchildren, finding ways to feed and clothe them.
Read on their website about the SLF campaign for the grandmothers. Be inspired by these courageous women who have faced widowhood and the tragedy of HIV/AIDS in their family, demonstrating astonishing resilience.
They have literally kept communities together in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Their stories, and their resilience, are both heart rending and inspiring.
Grandmothers in Canada partner with grandmothers in Africa, through the Stephen Lewis Foundation, to work towards a society in which the burden of care no longer weighs on the grandmothers, and in which it’s possible to dream of an HIV-free generation.
On October 6, 2021 the SLF celebrated the 15th anniversary of the grandmothers campaign. They tell the story here of those years and how grandmothers groups in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia have arisen to support these amazing women. You'll find yourself inspired to get involved - even if you're not a grandmother!
Joanna Henry and Ilana-Landsberg Lewis have written a beautiful book based on personal interviews with many of the grandmothers. Powered by Love is published by Goose Lane Editions (2017) and is available on Amazon, Chapters, or wherever you order your reading material. Look for it in your local library!
THE WIDOWS AND ABANDONED WOMEN MINISTRY
(arm of The Ministries of Heaven’s Family)
From the website:
“We have been able to reach out to women in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo, Pakistan, Moldova, Nepal, and others, and we’re looking forward to reaching out to untouched countries where widows and abandoned women face the same plights.
We also want to continuously look for opportunities to fund projects that are beneficial to the community and may allow these disciples of Jesus to reach out to their neighboring non-believers.”
Widowed, abandoned and at-risk women are helped to get on their feet through microloans, help with starting small businesses, medical assistance, and whatever needs may be pressing.
Read the blogs from Dossie Briggs (director) on the website to feel the heart of this ministry.
Here's the story of restoration for a survivor of the brutality of The Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, thanks to the support of The Widows and Abandoned Women’s Ministry.
Pastor Jim Cantelon began this ministry in response to the challenge from James 1:27 to “visit orphans and widows in distress” and his “marching orders” from the Lord, to make “every church a Mother Teresa”.
The organization works in several countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and trains home-based visitors from local churches to go into the homes of widows and orphans dying of HIV/AIDS in order to meet their immediate physical needs as well as assure them of their worth and bring them spiritual comfort.
They partner with local organizations that provide gender based violence awareness training as well as trauma-informed counselling.
There's also hope for destitute widows in China, India and South Asia, conflict areas, and through global programs. Read about the work of the fine organizations in these areas.