• sarah@healingeyes.org

African Widows

African Widows

Sometimes I can’t take photos of what I experience and often my words can’t even express the logic here but I’ll do my best. Widows here have it bad!

I was visiting a young widow who lost her husband unexpectedly last week in the nearby village since one of her children attends the school we are partnering with. It happened to be the day the clan family was gathering to discuss her future. What I learned was sickening and as I am here longer and longer I am seeing why the culture is the way it is and why change is so hard here.

The men were meeting to discuss who would care for the widow. At first that sounds rather nice of the clan but this is the hard truth of it. The man who will be chosen can have the option to marry her if she accepts but most likely because of the fear of AIDS neither will agree. This then leaves the widow the right to stay on the land but the man will not feed her or the children. So what does she have for options?

The clan woman can meet and persuade her to find a man who she can sleep with for food, exchange sex to survive. Now this widow is a Christian, which means she might not go for this option. If she doesn’t choose this path she could return to her native village and hope someone will care for her with a little food, however, she might not bring her 4 children with. Now another choice is find someone to marry, however again this is difficult because Christians fear AIDS and non-believers do not care about getting AIDS and would rather just not know. This means she fears marrying again. Now if she does find a man that man most likely will not take her 4 children and so those children now will be abandoned to perhaps a clan aunt or grandmother but this doesn’t mean they will be fed.

So if you’re a young widow here you have pretty bad odds of surviving…Starve, have sex, or marry and leave your children.

 

Another sickening reality here is if you’re a young girl reaching age 14 or 15 and you have grown up with no help and little food you will begin ‘playing sex’ with older men in order to get enough money to buy a simple thing like menstruation pads and/or a bit of food. These girls will not care about getting AIDS because no one here wants to get tested and fears the stigma that attaches to it. If you are a widow and your husband dies from AIDS they will try to hide it by turning to alcohol before the man dies so that people will say he died from drinking.

nikki
nikki

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: