In my time in Kenya, one of the projects I worked on was the Widow`s Project.
I visited the widows in different areas of Kenya, giving Bible talks, having conversations with them and giving them gifts that were generously donated for them.
In Kenya, if someone is widowed, the husband’s family comes in and takes all of their possessions, leaving them literally with nothing. There is no financial aid, nothing. They are left to fend for themselves, and if they have children it is even worse as they have to feed their children as well as themselves.
Some of the widows have had people trample on their land, trespass and use their land to plant their own gardens. The widows are treated with disrespect in the market places, they are considered the lowest of society. This was sad to hear as a Bible scholar knowing that God requires us to look after the widows and treat them with respect.
Having heard some of the stories, I felt very sorry for them and was a little sad going to Ndalu to visit the widows there. When we arrived, we were greeted with song and dance, and welcomed with open arms. After having a Bible class, they told us about a project they started on their own, together. They make baskets and sell them in the market for 500 shillings each (about $5 Canadian). They each donate as much money as they can for the supplies. Here they are working together, banding together to overcome their poverty. This was very inspiring to hear.
After our visit, they presented us with a live chicken. Tabby and I did not know what to do with it, so when we returned to Kamukuywa, we gave it to George, the chef at the school here so his family could have it.
George himself was orphaned and lived with his step-mother when he was a child. He arrives at the school very early in the morning – 4 am…I can hear him through my bedroom window when he arrives as the metal kitchen door makes a loud noise. When he was asked if it was difficult getting up that early he said “No, my step-mother used to beat me every day because she didn’t like me. I used to get up very early and leave to go to school so I would not get beaten. I am very lucky that I can get up so early. The other chefs here, they are not as lucky as I am.”
He considers himself lucky! Here is a man that was able to put his past behind him and consider it luck that he is who he is today and that he can get up early because he got up early to avoid beatings as a child.
I have seen this a lot with people here, they have led such terrible lives, but they are always smiling and saying they are happy and glad to be where they are now.
My whole perspective on life has changed completely after hearing countless stories of the people in Kenya. I will always remember them and remember the people behind the stories. They have kept their faith in God through it all and I find that truly inspiring.
NOTE FROM RITA SMITH: Jennifer Bell has started a crowdfunding site to raise funds which will be spent to make life a little easier for the Widows in Kenya. Personally, I love the idea of funding a goat (which costs only $50 and provides milk, baby goats, and meat) although Jen points out that funds can be used for many other helpful necessities as well. Please donate here. Thanks!