Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Not A Holiday - But it IS International Widows Day 2014

Today is International Widows Day. It was originally "launched by the Loomba Foundation at the House of Lords in London in 2005. The date, 23 June, was chosen because on this day Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, the inspiration for the Foundation, became a widow....in 1954 at the age of 37 and single-handledly raised and educated her 7 children. ... On the 22nd December 2010 at the 65th UN General Assembly, the United Nations recognised 23rd June as International Widows Day." (from the Loomba Foundation website)

The Loomba Foundation is a charity recognized by the United Kingdom and has sister charities in the US and India. It's not a Christian missionary organization, but according to their website the purpose is "Education of children of poor widows and socio-economic empowerment of their mothers is at the heart of the Loomba Foundation. In addition we actively advocate to promote the fundamental freedoms and human rights of widows and their children around the world."

As I promised Teresa McWilliams on The Widows Voice radio program on Thursday, here are some Christian organizations that I personally know of who also reach out to widows. Please add others you know of in the comments today. Do not send any money to me for widows, as I am just a private citizen and not set up to handle or distribute donations. My policy is to always refer people to their local church for aid.

In addition to the local church, here are a few non-denominational missions and ministries that intentionally reach out to widows internationally.

Gospel for Asia has a Widows for Widows ministry in South Asia The are collecting donations for International Widows Day, and 100% goes to relief, nothing is taken out for Western administration costs. "Your donation will help GFA give widows a means of renewable income, like a sewing machine or farm animals. You'll also help with daily essentials, like blankets and water filters," it says on their linked page. I have a friend with GFA, and it's a wonderful mission that supports national missionaries who already live in the culture, thus cutting the costs of educating, transporting and acclimating Western workers. Your dollars are maximized.

Widow Connection, led by Miriam Neff nurtures widows groups here in the US with Miriam's books, including From One Widow to Another and her DVD series for widows. But she's also helping widows in several countries of Africa! Please visit her website and see if the Lord would have you join her.
           "Widow Connection is blessed that we can sponsor small projects to meet needs in a village, or larger ones. While being a new organization has challenges, we are blessed with flexibility to serve where others may not. This is all possible because of your generosity. Widow Connection provides treadle sewing machines, initial supplies and fabric, and pays trainers. Widows select what products they will make based on what is needed and what will sell in their community or village. As they create and sell products, the proceeds are divided between the widows with a portion going back into the project.
           No funds come back to this organization. Eventually, we trust these projects will be self sustaining. Widows will be trained and move on to be self supporting, and new widows are welcomed to learn." (from the website)
           AND If you attend Widows Might widows conference in November (email me for details at WCplace@gmail.com), you'll have a chance to purchase a hand woven exercise mat from some of the widows in Africa!

International widows benefit also from large organizations like Samaritans Purse. Visit their website, type widows in the search box and read the stories of what your sisters around the world go through as their counties are overrun by armies or natural disasters. I'm so thankful for disaster relief organizations, and for the time I myself spent with a Southern Baptist disaster relief team. If you need to shake off your grief---you will not only be blessed by joining a disaster relief team, but you'll also be a blessing to the widows you meet!

She Is Safe ministers exclusively to women and girls, because they are the poorest of the poor throughout the world. I first met the leader of this organization in 2004 or 2005, and have followed their growth and compassion ever since. Please explore their website and get involved. "She Is Safe works to prevent, rescue and restore women and girls from abuse and exploitation in high risk places around the world, equipping them to build a life of freedom, faith and a strong future."
             Are you in Michigan? One of their new staff members in Michigan, Anne Cody, heads up the work in Sudan, Africa. "Under her leadership, a group of widows in Juba have been able to form a Transformation Group and save enough to start businesses, and not only to feed their families, but to help feed orphans living on the street." (from the webpage linked here)

And don't forget the newly founded National Widows Day, here in the US every May. It's purpose is also to raise awareness of widows and their needs, and to start a movement to encourage individuals to take a Wedensday afternoon each week and make it a Widow Wednesday by helping a widow in their community.

Thanks for checking out these groups with me today. I hope you'll be moved to look into them further and reach out to widows around the world. If you end up helping out in any way please write and tell me about it!
ferree

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