MNN (India) – Tomorrow is International Widow’s Day, a reminder that for many women all over the world, the death of a spouse is only the beginning of a long, painful journey. Just look at India, where Jennifer Pilon of India Partners says widows are considered “cursed” if their husbands die or leave them.
“Essentially, it’s your fault that you are a widow and your suffering is your penance for your husband dying,” she says.
The trials facing India’s widows aren’t just cultural. Practical issues crop up too, especially when it comes to finances.
“A woman will be married, they’ll have several children, and then the husband will die, leaving the woman to raise their children on her own,” Pilon says. “What makes it even more difficult is since they’re women and they married young, they didn’t get an education, so the only jobs they are able to do are day labor jobs like sweeping the streets or working out in the fields.”
For most women, that means minimal pay. As a result, many widows don’t earn enough to support one person, let alone an entire family. That means kids have to pull out of school to work and bring in more money, which means they don’t get an education either. As a result, being a widow often means beginning a cycle of poverty.
But sponsoring a widow could help break that cycle. For $39 a month, you can support a widow and her family through India Partners and provide her with food, clothing, and medication.
“We’re just trying to help come alongside them and raise them up a little bit so they’re not struggling for their everyday needs,” Pilon says.
On a practical level, medicine and food are huge needs for many widows.
“A lot of the widows suffer and struggle with diabetes, so we help make sure they have the insulin they need to keep themselves healthy,” she says.
That means they longer have to make the choice between essential medicine and eating well. Helping a widow pay for food also means she can use her own money to buy clothes for herself and her children, not to mention pay off housing bills.
“What it really does is it gives these widows hope that they don’t have to struggle every single day to scrape by and barely survive,” Pilon says. “Widow sponsorship gives them a buffer so that they know they can buy food, they know they can buy medication.”
These are women who cannot get out of their situations alone, but with your help, “We can lift the burden of daily survival from their minds.”