Losing a husband or a partner can be an incredibly saddening experience. But for too many women around the world, becoming a widow can also be the beginning of a whole new set of problems and hardships. Women are faced with sudden urgent fears of providing for the family. Difficulties of how they can afford to eat, or pay rent, or keep their children in school not only add to the emotional toll but also drastically change their lives.
Through our Enterprise Scheme, we empower these women and girls learn to support themselves. But we need your help to continue this work where it’s needed.
In places where women are brought out of their education early to marry their partner, where the man is customarily the sole bread-winner and women are expected only to maintain the household and look after the children, becoming a widow can be feel especially isolating. Sometimes, widows are even shunned by those around them due to cultural beliefs. In certain communities in Nepal widows are expected to be in mourning for a year, during which they can’t see their family and they are not supposed to remarry. For girls like Kalpana, whose husband died after a sudden medical issue, this combination of cultural beliefs and stigma results in a mountain of challenges.
When Kalpana’s life was turned upside down, she suddenly had to travel a long way for the chance of basic labour and a meagre pay. This work was hard and unreliable. Because Kalpana was alone in looking after her daughter, it also meant that her daughter had to go with her to work rather than to school. Eventually, Kalpana began begging to make ends meet.
Fortunately, Kalpana discovered one of our projects. We trained Kalpana on the principles of management, planning, bookkeeping, and provided a small start-up grant to help her set up her own business. Kalpana took this knowledge and funding and built a small shop next to her house – perfect for ensuring her daughter could continue going to school! – from which she sells things like noodles, biscuits, and lentils. Kalpana also bought a loom so that she can make textiles, and joined a local savings and loans group so she could save for a fridge and serve cold drinks in the summer.
All Kalpana needed was a bit of support, and now she’s able to provide for herself and her daughter. We know that the same is true for so many other widows who have found themselves suddenly alone. Our Enterprise Scheme provides the knowledge and funding to change the direction of their lives for the better.
I will never have to beg anyone again and can manage my own life independently.