The bible is very clear that we are to take care of widows and orphans; in fact, God has a very special place in His heart for them. In Kenya there are many, many widows and orphans. That is especially true in Kadawa, the village where we work. Children are the next generations; they are the emergent leaders and rulers of the earth. Many people invest in their lives; especially, in the area of education. But the Lord put a very special concern on our hearts for older, destitute widows who have no means of support and no one to take care of them. Our goal is to help give them dignity in their declining years. We want to help make their lives better in these latter years than they were in the former.
VISITING PROSPECTIVE WOMEN TO ADD TO THE WIDOWS' LIST
We visited Risper Nyanwanda on July 4. We knew she was an older widow and we wanted to determine if she met the criteria for being destitute.
One of the first questions we asked was if she had any children. We were not prepared for her reply. She told us that she had 10 children and that her husband and children had all been murdered! ---------------------
Here is the rest of Risper's story: She returned to Kadawa after being absent for many years. When she married she moved from Magwar (a section of Kadawa) with her husband to an area of Western Kenya called Mt. Elgon. They subsequently had 10 children. They lived in a multi-ethnic (many tribes) area and owned 100 acres of land; they were prosperous farmers. Her sons even owned two tractors. The main tribal group in the area are the Sabaots - part of the Kalenjin tribe. Due to past, unresolved injustices by the government concerning land, a rebel militia group, called the SLDF (Sabaot Land Defense Force) , formed to fight the government forces over land issues. Over time group evolved into a xenophobic organization that, in addition to warring with the government, began indiscriminately attacking civilians who weren't part of their tribe and taking their land from them.
In 2006 Risper, her husband and children were in their home having a meal. Risper went to the kitchen, which was in another area, to get some milk. While she was in there the SLDF invaded her house and slaughtered her husband and all 10 of her children. They used crude weapons like machetes and axes and a gun or two. She escaped through the back of her property, running and walking for a whole day until she came to a village that would take her in, and she remained there. She could not go back to her home. She wasn't even able to attend to the burial of her family.
This woman, without drama, sat very quietly and told us her story. We were caught totally off guard, having had no idea of any of this. Marty was weeping, the woman who was our escort was weeping, Johnfred and John wept. As we approached her to offer our sorrow we saw her tears. When we spoke words of condolences to her this woman said "I know that God loves me"! It was a declaration! We were speechless. None of us has ever heard of such horror and devastation. A woman in her prime and well situated in life lost literally everything in one fell swoop. Even while writing this Marty is fighting tears. She (We) can't get our heads wrapped around this!
As we regained our composure we talked to her about her living situation here in Kadawa. She has been in the place we visited for 6 months. She lives by herself on the side of a steep hill and somehow is growing some maize and millet around her "house". There is a stream not too far from her place where she is able to get water. She earns a few shillings pulling weeds and planting for other people. We didn't find out who built her shelter, but it is obviously only a temporary place. It has no windows and is one room with a sheet dividing it so that one side is for sleeping. Johnfred examined the walls and told us that the dirt used for mud is not good for building houses. The rain is washing the walls away and since it is a flat roof when it rains the water comes through the ventilation space between the roof and top of the walls. It is so small we don't know how she breathes at night with the door shut.
She will now be getting fairly regular distribution of food from the Widows' Farm and we will see that she gets a solar lamp so she has light at night. All of the benefits associated with the widows' ministry are available to her. Her name is on the list for a house.
When we go visit these ladies we always take something they can use but usually won't have. In her photo she is smiling because she received a kilogram of sugar - she said it had been a long time since she had sugar - some maize flour, some matches, some tea leaves and uht milk, and a stainless steel curly scrubbing pad for her sufurias (aluminum cooking pot - they get really sooty from the wood fire and become hard to clean).
These things jolt our perspective on a lot of points. Imagine yourself being thrilled with a bag of sugar, a bag of corn meal and a pot scrubber!
We visited two other widows - a third one wasn't home when we arrived. But it will take a lot of space to write about the others. There are 9 prospective additions to the widows' list. We will visit the other six as we go along and so will keep interjecting stories periodically.
THANK ALL OF YOU WHO MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE SOME PROVISION FOR THESE DEAR WOMEN! WE ASK THAT GOD BLESS YOU ABUNDANTLY!!
John & Marty