Widows’ Hope Program

Widows Hope Program (WHP):

In Ethiopia, many children are living in extreme poverty in one-parent homes. Because of abandonment, death from HIV/AIDS, and malaria, mothers are alone, and they try to keep the family together, but most have neither education nor skills to provide properly for their family. FOVC believes that empowering and training women will help prevent children from becoming full orphans. Through its Widow’s Hope Program (WHP), FOVC has been successful in helping over 160 women through a variety of income-generating projects. These projects have empowered women in allowing them to financially provide for their families. They have gained a valuable support group within the community where the widows can make friends and share the challenges they face by being single, abandoned, and marginalized.

Livestock for Widows Project:

Rural assets such as farm animals and poultry are a longed-for source of food and income generation. Chickens, sheep, and cows mean nutritious eggs, meat, milk, and cheese for the family’s children, and they provide a source of income that can help make the difference between crushing poverty and the family’s ability to work toward a better future. Livestock is a valuable asset for families, but many single women cannot afford them. Through this livestock program a widow is entrusted with a cow, sheep, or chickens, and she can immediately begin to provide food for her children. She also receives training, ongoing support from FOVC, and government help with livestock vaccinations and vet care to ensure the best success of this project. As the widows begin to earn money, they make small repayments to the Livestock for Widows Fund so more widows can receive support in the future. To date, FOVC has provided 71 women with 71 cows, 68 sheep, 5 oxen, and multiple chickens.

 

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Crops for Widows Project:

Rural Southern Ethiopia is largely made up of sustenance farming. When a women loses her husband and she continues to physically run the farm, it is very difficult to provide for her family at the basic level. It becomes an overwhelming task. In early 2016, FOVC was able to provide 71 women with seed, training, and support — to restart their small scale farms. The women were able to plant nourishing maize, teff, sorghum, beans, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and onions. This not only provided crops for the family, but they were able to sell their produce at local markets which provided an income. As with our other Widows Hope programs, intentional training taught the women the needed knowledge and skills. Men from the local community volunteered to help the women plow their fields. Furthermore, they used animal dung and other easily decaying materials, as well as manures of small ruminants that help to keep the fertility of the land. Also, some modern soil fertilizers like Urea and DAP were distributed. Finally, the women in the program will make small repayments to the Crops for Widows Fund, so more widows and their families can be helped in the future.

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Handcrafts for Widows Project:

In 2015 FOVC launched a Handcrafting and Sewing Shop for 26 women near our Shanto Project Site. The women received business, bookkeeping, handcrafting, and sewing training from professionals trainers. The region around Shanto is famous for its abundance of colorful textile crafts, and for the artistry and creativity of its traditional craftswomen. Since the initial investment in raw materials was beyond their means, launching this project gave these women an wonderful opportunity to participate in a business and exercise their creativity. The women create handiwork to sell, and this can help make the difference between crushing poverty and the ability to build a better future. This project is intended to be a local business. The women have a storefront in the main shopping area of Shanto. As they begin to earn incomes, the widows will repay funds to FOVC, and the money will fund another group of widows, and then another, and then another… creating a “pay-it-forward” effect that touches the lives of many widows and their children. This project has a secondary function, too, because it acts as a valuable support group within the community, where the widows can make friends and share the challenges they face.

Small Business for Widows Project:

FOVC hopes to continue funding various income-generating projects for struggling but hardworking widows in Southern Ethiopia. If you are interested in funding a new project please contact us.