She was looking forward to a settled married life. The love of her life from the south of the country. He left his family and what was familiar to settle with her in her native Borno State. After four beautiful children, her beloved told her to stay home and look after their family. 'Don't worry,' he told her, 'I will start you up in a business that will give you financial independence'.
Alas! this was not to be! In 2013, his young life was cruelly cut short by the terrorist group - Boko Haram. His body never to be found. Everything they had built up together looted and stolen by the faceless evil that was pervading the northern part of the nation. Fearing for her life and that of her three young children, she fled south to seek the comfort of his family. But...no one wanted the responsibility of five extra mouth to feed. She and her children were turned away. With no home, she sort solace in the church. They helped to pay for a room and with handouts from kind Samaritans, she has been living from hand to mouth, taking cleaning work, clothes washing and any other menial work she could get. Life could not get worse.
In Nigeria, ‘widowhood represents a "social death" for women. It is not merely that they lose their husbands – often the main breadwinner and supporter of their children - but widowhood robs them of their status and consigns them to the very margins of society where they suffer the most extreme forms of discrimination, stigma and deprivation.’ (Joy Gabriel – Economic & Financial Times)
"We found out that widows are a stigma in this society," says Nigerian billionaire Folorunso Alakija. "Once they lose their husbands, the society turns their backs on them, their in-laws begin to mistreat them, they become depressed, they don't know where to turn, and they don't know where their next meal is coming from."
Despite the fact that Nigeria has a constitution that emphasizes equal rights for women. There is a wide divide between policy and practices. The practice of written will is virtually non-existence, leaving women vulnerable to traditional and cultural practices that expose widows to maltreatment from in-laws after the death of their husbands. Inheritance law is based on the customs and traditions of the people; in most cases a widow has no right of inheritance in her deceased husband's estate. Without adult children to support them, the widows are left impoverished and vulnerable to abuse and indignity.
At We CAN Foundation, we are passionate about the welfare of widows, especially because they are under God’s special care (Psalm 68:5). Our Christianity is not complete without the care of orphans and widows (James 1:27).
Our priority is to support one widow at a time with income generating small business to feed their family and educate their children. We do this by providing donated sale-able clothes and a small start-up capital.
Our recent project have given six women the opportunity to get their life back on track. The used clothes business in Nigeria is booming. They have been given the chance to secure income generating small business that has the potential for bigger opportunities. We will continue to support these women with financial literacy training, investment training and mentoring.
We have only just begun there are still countless of widows who are desperately in need of support. If you would like to help in anyway, do get in touch.