Field reports indicate that approximately 22,000 of all VCP church members are widowed, and the actual number may be significantly higher.
OMS Africa encourages micro development activities to focus on widows. Widows are encouraged to participate in savings and loans schemes, sustainable gardens, literacy programs, and community upliftment projects. A number of widows have taken part in sustainable development projects involving farming as well as dress making.
Click here to view photos of widows and other refugees at a refugee camp in the Goma area.
Widows in the VCP Church Register
As of June 2011, the VCP Church Register recorded the following numbers of widows by country. The actual number may be significantly higher.
|Central African Republic||
|Republic of Congo||
|Democratic Republic of Congo||
A Widow Loses Her Belongings
The following testimony by a Christian woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) relates some of the trauma that widows can experience. While traditions vary across Africa, the experience of this lady and her widowed mother points out the need for Christ's church to reach out to widows.
My father was diagnosed with untreatable stomach cancer and returned to our village from where he had worked. I received word that he was quickly growing weaker. I was able to hire a driver to take me the 115 km (70 miles) on a motorcycle to our village from the hospital where I worked.
I found my father still alive, and as the eldest child I discussed important matters with him during his final days. Four days after my arrival, at around 8:00 AM on 1 April 1995, he closed his eyes forever. The funeral took place on the next day, a Sunday, as the heat in the DRC requires a swift burial.
On Monday a crowd gathered in front of the family house, mainly all the relatives of my father´s wider family. They demanded that the house be emptied and everything be displayed out front to be shared among them. That was the tradition I had heard of, but now was experiencing myself.
My father´s family was determined to share everything among themselves – table, chairs, wardrobe, cooking utensils, absolutely everything – nothing toward which they had ever contributed. My father was a highway inspector and had bought all his possessions himself. He had five guns, as he loved to go hunting to bring game back home.
Shortly before his death, knowing the custom following a man's death, he chalked the names of his children on his firearms to prevent them from being grabbed by the relatives. The old custom was exacerbated by alcohol and hashish. My father had chalked one of his children´s name on the sewing machine. But an intoxicated relative rubbed the name off and took the sewing machine outside.
In the large wardrobe, my father had kept things for us children, so he chalked our names on the outside. As I worked in a city some distance from my home village, some of my things were kept in the wardrobe for safekeeping. Although my father had told people not to touch these things, one of the drunken men said that only the wardrobe itself was for the children, and that the things inside were free to be taken. Exasperated, I told them to take everything, including my plates and glassware. There was nothing I could do to stop them in their mindless greed.
A few days later, I arranged for my mother join me where I lived. Otherwise we would have had to bury her not long thereafter.