Day 83 – Serving the Widowed and Orphaned

IPS News: The estimated number of widowed persons worldwide in 2020 is approximately 350 million, with the large majority, approximately 80 percent, being widowed women. 

The sadness, anxiety and loneliness over the loss of a spouse or life partner typically have detrimental effects on the psychological, social, physical and economic wellbeing of the surviving spouse, especially among the elderly, for the rest of their life. Those effects differ somewhat by gender.

Widowers, for example, may become more depressed and withdrawn than widows because men typically do not have the strong social support network of friends that women tend to develop.

In contrast, widows tend to encounter greater financial difficulties and economic hardships than widowers, particularly in societies where wives have little status or entitlement except in relation to their husbands. In many instances, the road to poverty, discrimination and abuse for widows begins after their spouse or partner dies. According to UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund), there are roughly 153 million orphans worldwide. Every day, an estimated 5,700 more children become orphans. Children are often relinquished due to war, natural disaster, poverty, disease, stigma, and medical needs.

CAFO (The Christian Alliance for Orphans): One of the greatest weaknesses in these global orphan estimates is that they include only orphans that are currently living in homes. They do not count the estimated 2 to 8+ million children living in institutions.  Nor do current estimates include the vast number of children who are living on the streets, exploited for labor, unaccompanied refugees, victims of trafficking, or participating in armed conflict. Many of these children who live in orphanages or on the streets are known as “social orphans.”

Story International: Throughout the Bible, we see the “orphan” and the “widow” mentioned as people God protects, helps, and cares for deeply. 

  • “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” James 1:27
  • “Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17-18

Where do we start? Well, a good place to begin would be with the poorest nation on earth which, according to Focus Economics, is Democratic Republic of Congo with an annual 2019 GDP per capita of less than $500 USD.  

The International Widows and Orphans Fund (iWof) was formed out of the concern for orphans in one of the world’s most dangerous places to live – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  iWof, in association with Grace Ministries, provides housing, clothing, food, health care and education to children living in one of the most dangerous and poorest countries in the world. Orphaned by war and poverty, our children live in a safe place. We believe that education is the best hope to escape the strong grip of poverty. Donate

Helping widows in the DRC, the Msenwa FoundationSewing for Life is a holistic project to empower the most vulnerable women in eastern DR Congo by establishing a training centre and equipping them with sewing machines and entrepreneurial skills. Several NGOs in Congo have stated that in eastern Congo, 60% of children and 70% of the elderly depend on widows for their survival, for care, shelter and food. Donate