Widows prosper while tension simmers in Kenya

By August 15, 2023

Kenya (MNN) — Kenya’s government warns opposition leaders not to resume protests if mediation talks don’t go their way. Both sides have been at loggerheads for weeks; they began taking steps toward conflict resolution last week.

Unrest in one of East Africa’s most stable democracies raised alarm earlier this year. At least 20 people have died in police-protestor clashes, though human rights groups say the toll is much higher.

Protestors say the cost of living is out of control. By contrast, Kenyan President William Ruto insists the country’s economic rebuild is “progressing well” and that Kenyans need to “bear the pain” of excessive taxes.

Widows suffer greatly during an economic downturn. “They’re often very overlooked in the society there (in Kenya),” Kenya Hope’s Joy Mueller says.

“It’s a vicious circle cycle of being knocked down and always failing, failing, and never getting ahead.”

There are approximately eight million widows in Kenya. Most rural communities embrace a polygamous culture, meaning it’s normal for a man to have several wives. When that man dies, his family takes over the estate, and each wife is left to fend for herself and her children.

Typically, a woman enrolled in Kenya Hope’s Widow’s Might program meets two criteria. “One, she’s hungry [because she cannot afford food],” Mueller says.

“[Two,] her kids aren’t going to school because she doesn’t have the money to send them to school.”

(Photo courtesy of Kenya Hope)

Kenya Hope pairs Christian discipleship with job skills training, giving widows hope for the future. Learn more and become a “Widow’s Might” sponsor here.

“Once a woman starts earning an income, she can start breaking that cycle,” Mueller says.

The training varies by location. “The cornerstone training is breadmaking. We teach these women how to make these absolutely delicious rolls Dutch oven style, and then they start selling them,” Mueller says.

“In Nairobi, where we have electricity, we have been teaching the ladies sewing, and this is huge. They are now sewing all the school uniforms for our sponsored kids, and they are making gorgeous canvas leather bags that we sell here in the United States.”




Header and story images courtesy of Kenya Hope.