Yesterday, we had the privilege of attending one of our partner organization’s widows’ meetings in a nearby village. As part of their women’s empowerment program, Bala Vikasa provides what are essentially support groups for widows.
Unlike most western cultures, to be a widow in India means that you are nothing. Widows are ostracized by their in-laws, harassed by their community members, and are largely abandoned. Widows are considered bad luck, and are blamed for the deaths of their husbands.
Practically speaking, widows often cannot work because they are illiterate, and thus cannot care for their children. They are faced with innumerable obstacles, which is remarkably different from western experience wherein grief is a widow’s only concern.
The women we met yesterday–though justifiably tearful–were a great inspiration. With the help of Bala Vikasa, many of them have relatively stable work, and some are even entrepreneurs in their respective villages. Moreover, these women develop courage and independence by sharing their stories in a group setting.
Attending the widows’ meeting was an immensely helpful introduction to one of many issues thisvillage will be faced with.
— Christie Esau