By Kari Miller
The life of a widow is an exercise in patience, persistence and deep disappointment, especially in Uganda. First comes the grieving. The deep, deep sadness in losing the one you love, the one you committed your life to, the one you had your children with.
The memory of that exceedingly happy day when you got married now only serves to deepen the sorrow of your loss. It seems as if a part of your soul has died with him. If only for the children you keep on surviving, you keep on living. After the intensity of the grief lessens, you realize that it is up to you to feed them, to clothe them, provide school fees for them and to love them into maturity.
You go to the market every day and sell whatever you can, but it is never enough. You heart breaks every time you have to tell your children that there will not be anything to eat tonight. Then you go into your room and cry yourself to sleep.
How long can you survive like this? The weight of all of it feels as though it might crush you completely. Your only hope is that God is real and that he hears your cries for help.
Jane’s bony arms were resting on her bony thighs. She lifted her head slightly to meet my gaze. As she began to speak, she mentioned her children then broke down into sobs. Joyce comforted her, and then proceeded to speak for her.
Jane has HIV and TB. She has had TB for over a year now and has gone through treatment twice. I remembered providing the money for her first round of treatment 6 months ago. I was so fearful then that she wouldn’t survive the treatment, but to God’s great credit she is still alive. Jane is unable to work due to the severity of her sickness, so she relies totally on her fellow widows to share their small amounts of food with her and her children. Two days ago, Joyce found Jane collapsed on the floor of her home. She rushed to her side to help her. She was still breathing, but very weak. Joyce spent hours at her home watching over her, giving her tea and talking to her when she was conscious.
She had collapsed because she had not eaten for couple of days, instead wanting her children to eat the small amount of food given to them by her fellow widows. She had also been emotionally overwrought when she found out that her children’s school fees would not be paid by a local charity.
She had applied to this charity on behalf of her children and had not received the help. Now she was devastated, knowing that her children now had no hope of attending school, no hope of a future. She is dying and is desperate for her children to be able to go to school.
Jane will not live. There will be a day when I hear of her death and I go to her burial. Her children will be orphans. I sat there for some time trying to seem okay, but I wasn’t. Deep sorrow had come and rested itself inside my heart.
After leaving Jane’s home, I walked with Rosemary up to the market in order to catch a bus.
“It is hard,” she said. “I have made so many beaded necklaces hoping to create a business to support myself and my children, but there is no market. I can’t sell enough of them.”
She was quiet again and this time not moving. In the darkness, the light of a motorbike caught her face and I saw tears streaming down her face. I put both my arms around her and held her very close. “You are not alone,” I said. She then cried as she told me that her youngest boy now has ulcers because she has not been able to feed him regularly. He kept her up all night last night crying and asking her, “Mommy, why don’t you feed me?”
She then began to sob. “What can I do?’ she asked me, “What can I do?”
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What can widows like Jane and Rosemary do? Their options are so limited. That’s why God says that true religion is to take care of them in their distress (James 1:27).
If you want to help, please contact Kari’s friend Lisa at the email address below and help her make a difference in these ladies’ lives. Here’s what Lisa writes:
Thank you for your interest and concern for the Dorcas Widows. If you (or anyone else you know) would like to make a contribution to the fund, please make the check out to Dorcas Widows Fund and mail to the following address:
Dorcas Widows Fund
574 Prairie Center Drive #135-109
Eden Prairie, MN, 55344
You will receive a tax receipt for your donation mailed to the address on your check. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me 952.944.9297 or [email protected].
If you liked this article, check out: Farther Down the Road: An atypical New Year’s letter
Kari Miller is a 4th grade teacher who is passionate about loving Jesus and loving others. She longs to inspire others to love the least, the lost and the left out.