When ACT Trustee, Kunle Onabolu, visited Burkina Faso in December 2002 he met with widows supported by ACT and asked them about their situation. Here are some of the moving comments made by the widows:
• “It is very painful that the fatherless children are no longer welcomed to play with their cousins with whom they had previously enjoyed friendships during the good times.”
• “You feel frustration and shame that your own children cannot go to school, or worse that they have been thrown out of school. This is not because they are incapable academically, but simply that they cannot afford school fees or buy school uniform or school books”.
• “The children desire education but do not have the opportunity. You watch as they become withdrawn and gradually enter into depression”.
• “You watch and observe how your children loose confidence, and loose any hope of achieving their potential in life and you feel powerless to change this situation”.
• “The feeling of pain is deep as your children turn against you in the wrong belief that you, their mother is the problem, or a part of it because you are unable to provide for them”.
• “Gradually you lose control over the older children, who feel they have no choice but to do ‘what it takes’ to survive. They end up joining street gangs, become street children or enter into prostitution”.
• Because of the shame some widows are tempted to relocate to the large towns with the children. They end up in squatter camps with no friends or relatives. They are often exploited and end up in even greater poverty.
This is the plight of the widows we support in Africa and these comments can be repeated in Zambia, Tanzania and anywhere else in Africa.
Following this visit, ACT support for the widows has expanded into capacity building. We are bringing widows together to form a community so they can be helped and meet with others in a similar situation to themselves. ACT has provided training in business skills to enable them become more self sufficient. This has led to the formation of cooperatives for growing and selling corn and beans by the widows.
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