During a recent trip to India, I had the honor of meeting 20 widows in a lovely, but very rural, area called Gumma. These ladies were all 60 years of age or older, live in this rural area, do not receive the assistance needed from their families, and have various health issues. Would you like to see them?
On this day, our partner, A Good Shepherd Ministry, had arranged for the ladies to meet us and share their life stories. I heard stories of health concerns, abandonment, and even physical abuse from family members; but the most common theme, I am sorry to say, was hopelessness.
In the local culture, a widow should live with her oldest son, and he should provide for her. Unfortunately, in this area there are very few opportunities for consistent employment, so most of the men are day laborers to provide what they can for their families. Having another person in their home puts an additional and unwanted burden on the sons of these widows. These ladies can’t live with their daughters, because once the daughters are married, they are considered to have left their family and joined the husband’s family.
Another interesting cultural issue is how elderly widows are perceived. It is considered bad luck to look on the face of one of these elderly widows, so the widows aren’t even invited to a family birthday party!
On this day, we gave the ladies a big meal, new clothes, and a small amount of pocket money. We also shared with them that A Good Shepherd Ministry and Global Partners in Life have a vision of building a facility that will house 20 of them with a kitchen where 3 meals a day will be prepared, a dining area, rooms for 4 ladies with a bathroom, meeting rooms, counseling, and hopefully some medical attention.
In the future, you will hear much more about this project! Thanks to the people that contribute to Global Partners in Life so we could provide food, clothing, and encouragement for these poor elderly widows!