Our partners in Guatemala are working to give widows in need safe houses but, even more than that, a home where they are welcomed and loved.
“I’ve seen how widows are forced into poverty,” wrote Elisabeth Braw for Foreign Policy, “evicted from their homes, denied their rights, and often rendered invisible and voiceless.”
Growing up on India gave Braw an insider’s view to how countries swiftly advancing in every other social arena can still lag in specific areas where long-held traditions or historical views of certain groups can lead to prejudice and abuse.
Braw noted, “Across the world, the poverty they [widows] suffer is often made worse by little or no access to credit or other economic resources, and by illiteracy or lack of education. And in many countries, but particularly across Africa and Asia, widows find themselves the victims of physical and mental violence — including sexual abuse — related to inheritance, land and property disputes.”
According to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “nearly half of the 259 million widows around the world live in poverty.”
With this in mind, World Challenge has dedicated itself to bringing communities together to support and care for vulnerable widows.
Living in a Corner
Doña Simeona lived in the corner of someone else’s shanty. The cornstalk ‘walls’ let in cold air every night in the winter and in Guatemalan mountains that air can get cold indeed.
Her husband had been an alcoholic, becoming so lost in the drink that he physically abused Doña. In some ways, it was a mercy when he abruptly passed away from a heart attack.“She never had a home. She never had a safe place to live,” World Challenge’s partners explained, describing Doña’s life prior to their meeting her.
She was fortunate enough to have neighbors who were willing to let her live with them, and she found space between plastic buckets and grocery sacks to sleep. Since she could not depend on anyone to help her beyond the most basic necessities like shelter, however, Doña shucked corn then plucked out individual kernels to sell as cornmeal.
She focused on making it through each day, enduring whatever she needed to in order to put one foot in front of the other. At ninety years old, there wasn’t much else she could do. The family she was living with certainly didn’t expect her to make it much longer. They had already purchased a coffin for her and used it as a table in the meantime.
A Spiritual Home Too
When World Challenge partners met Doña, they knew that she was the perfect candidate for their housing program which helps widows by building them a permanent home. These homes are built of cinderblock and come furnished with a mattress, stove and other basic furnishings.
Perhaps the most important benefit that come with these homes is that they give our partners a chance to meet with precious ladies like Doña and introduce them to church community. Often there are other widows who are part of the church and become an emotional and spiritual support group for one another. The prayers that these little ladies offer up are a great blessing to our partners and those who volunteer with them too.
“She [Doña] loves prayer,” one of our partners in Guatemala shares. “She always talks about the goodness of her Father in heaven. She blesses everyone who comes around her. She is a true miracle of life and just of resilience. She praises and thanks God constantly to consider her, to choose her and to see her in her old age.
Thank you for supporting World Challenge and allowing us to be a blessing to widows and those in need.