Over 80% of the population are dependent on low level subsistence farming which is mainly for food with no viable source of income and survive on one meal a day.
On our recent back to school outreach we decided to give something to the widows who happen to be the parents and guardians to some of the children in our school scholarship program seeing that they do a very good job raising these children. These single mothers do go through a lot to try and meet the needs of these children. Some are really elderly and cannot handle strenuous jobs but because they have to put food on the table or send the children to school they bear with the pain that comes with such work.
BaNgaAfayo giving them farming tools and seeds to plant was to encourage them mostly although for some they needed the help. One could see their faces light up with such a small gesture. Seeds are for growing more food and these farming tools are to help them in their gardens and in the long run see that they can provide for their children. The hoes are to also make them feel less hopeless thinking that they are worthless and cannot do anything for their children. BaNgaAfayo will continue to provide some basic needs for the children but we do not want to take away the little pride these mothers have left. So with the digging hoes they can still feel significant in the lives of their children.
Why you should care
The testimony of the widows on this day clearly revealed the brutal realities of many widow’s lives, highlighting the failure of civil law, religion, and custom to protect women whose husbands have died. The discrimination against widows in the community where we work is so severe that action must be taken to bring their situation to the attention of the world.
Some of the truths about widows in the community where we work are summarized here below:
- When their husbands die widows in this community rarely have the right to inherit property or to have their rights enforced. They are frequently evicted from their property, their possessions taken from them, and often their children are also removed from their care and protection.
- Thus most widows live in severe poverty
- Even where laws exist to protect women whose husbands have died, the widows are generally not aware of their rights. Even when they are, the courts are often controlled by local customs which give all property to the women’s in-laws.
- Widows are particularly vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse and rape. Domestic violence is particularly common.
- Homelessness, illiteracy, and poverty lead widows into exploitative work situations.
- The extreme poverty and precariousness of the widow’s live leaves their children, and particularly their daughters in extremely vulnerable positions. Daughters of widows are more likely to marry very young, and become widows themselves, thus recreating the cycle of poverty in their own lives and in the next generation.
- Thousands of widows are very young; many are actually children.
Working to make things better
BaNgaAfayo Initiative Uganda believes social capital investment is the main driver to financial freedom and good health through working with the widows and the community at large community to bring about positive change.
Usually on our emergency relief outreaches, we give widows and single mothers packets of sugar and loaves of bread but we wanted to leave them with something more lasting, something they can look at and remember they are not alone in this race. With these farming tools we hope to see some change in the lives of these families.
Through this initiative, a better life is possible for all; we seek to work with grass root structures to trigger grassroots solutions to local challenges in an effort to help widows and women help themselves through partnership to promote physical health through the provision of wellness, preventative and medical care.
We can do more together…