India (MNN) — When women become widows in India, the future can seem pretty bleak. But thanks to organizations like India Partners, there are pockets of hope.
Donna Glass of India Partners says when a woman’s husband dies, she is looked down upon by society. “Within India’s society, it is customary that if somebody is widowed, that they will not remarry,” Glass explains.
That’s why for many years now, India Partners has provided free tailoring classes for women who need help providing for their families. The alternative to skilled trade like this can be hard manual labor that takes her away from her children all day, or even prostitution.
The classes take place six days out of the week for six months. They cover not only the technical skills of sewing, but provide women with business knowledge as well.
Earlier this summer, three more schools opened. India Partners is helping open a fourth one this year devoted to women who are HIV positive. That makes nine schools in all.
“We’re almost doubling the number of people who will be served, just within this year,” Glass says.
More than just a class
In addition to the skilled trade training, these women participate in a devotional every day. So, for six days in a row, they get to hear the Gospel. And since many of these schools are run out of churches, many of the women return on Sunday for worship. In short, this project is helping families in India both physically and spiritually.
“They have this chance to not only transform the financial capabilities of their family, but they have a chance to transform their whole lives and the lives of their family too. Because if the women decide to start coming to church, which many of them do, then that always influences the whole family.”
Many of the women who attend the classes are already Christians. When their husbands died, this fact caused his family to cast her out.
Finding their value again
One of the schools opened in July is in the slums of an urban area. Glass says this tailoring school will help assist women as they climb out of poverty. It will help them regain a sense of self-worth.
While widows are looked down upon, widows with HIV are feared.
“Who’s going to want to marry them? Who’s going to want to associate with them because of the fear that exists?” Donna says.
Fortunately, India does a good job at providing medicine to slow down the progression of the disease. But it doesn’t take care of their financial needs.
This new school is run by a wife and her husband. Her passion is to help these women, and they can tell. All of the instructors in these schools are women. Glass says the impact they make with their love and acceptance is tremendous.
“Because they become the hands and feet of Christ, then these women encounter Christ every single day, every time they interact with the instructors. And it’s just a powerful ministry because these women are loved when others may not love them within their communities.”
Would you pray for these new schools? Ask God to use them to renew the self-worth these women have, and to introduce them to the love of Jesus.
If you’d like to help alongside your prayer, consider supporting the cost of tuition or a sewing machine. Each woman receives a sewing machine at the end, which costs $100. The cost of tuition for six months is $90. Here is a link to contribute to these needs.