Dearest friends of the Widows of India,
We share this update to inform you of the latest happenings for the widows in South India, with deepest gratitude in our hearts for all your support, without which none of the following events would have occurred.
Our Om Shanthi Old Age Home has become a strong beam of light in Tiruvannamalai and the outlying area. Our project has become very well-known as being a very well-run support and haven for aging and abandoned women who here find refuge and loving care during their final years.
Public and civil authorities are recommending our services, as do the many westerners who come to visit after learning of our services to both old and young widows (who very often have multiple children).
The Om Shanthi Old Age Home has become a safe haven, currently housing 29 beautiful goddesses (ages range 70 – 93) who are lovingly cared for round the clock by a staff of nine wonderful women (also widows).
I (Anna) spend three months of the year in Tiruvannamalai, and Paulette typically spends 6 weeks here. Kirsti Shields (of Journeys of Solutions) and her daughter also experienced the magic and beauty of the widows in the home this year.
Together, we all share in the efforts to contribute the maintenance of this worthy place, where destitute elderly women can live peacefully through the end of their days, instead of out on the streets.
HELPING YOUNG WIDOWS AND CHILDREN:
This aspect of our project (the Old Age Home) is flourishing beautifully, and we now have directed our attention to another “hotspot”, where help is urgently needed.
There are many, many young widows with children whose husband has recently passed away, and who now stand facing a huge void in their lives. They have lost their husband, the children their father, and the women now face the need to support themselves and their children, alone, without resources.
We have three social workers who go out in to the community to seek out and screen the needs of those who are now in desperate straits, often with little to eat. Our social workers are very well attuned to the suffering of these young mothers, as they are widows, themselves.
Many live in the very rural and remote outskirts of Tiruvannamalai. The widows and their children are so very grateful when we arrive with a sack of rich, dhal, and cooking oil! We then sit with them, listen to their story, and determine how we can best address their most urgent needs. We help each family according to their specific need. Every situation is different.
Many times, it is medical care which is most immediately needed: HIV, malnutrition, and depression is widespread. Their little hut’s roof in which they live needs repair – rain comes through in the rainy season, while they sleep on the floor.
We then look at helping to find work for these most often illiterate young women, whose only education has been to care for their families.
Last, but not least! So very, very important is the education of the children to whom is owed a fighting chance for a future in their country, which is so quickly developing its power and resources. All widows are very strongly concerned about the future of their children, and it is ingrained in all children that education is the key to their rescue from a life of poverty.
All children are provided with schoolbags, school uniforms, and other materials which they need. We also look to support children with higher education, as well. Currently, we are giving support to 95 widows and otherwise destitute women, along with 172 students, of all ages.
The subdued flickering of hope seen in the eyes of the widows and their children upon our first visit is replaced with great joy – we see this in their eyes upon our follow-up visits made after some time of support.
It is because of each and every one of you that we are able to share in this reward for our endeavors, which we herewith share with you! Without your kind support, none of this could have happened! There are so, so many more who need our help!
With deep gratitude!
Anna & Paulette