Many people in Lydia’s circumstances would have given up hope a long time ago. After losing her husband in 2003, Lydia was left alone in the Mgona slums to care for not only her own five children, but four of her brother’s orphaned children. As a single, widowed mother living in poverty with nine children to support, life was bleak with no means to earn an income.
But God had not forgotten Lydia, and in 2005 she joined the widows support group in Mgona made possible through WOW community sponsorship. Since then, she’s learned valuable small business skills, finding soap-making the most lucrative business for her. The widows group even helped her open up her very first bank account to help her save and invest in the future of her business. Today, the determined mother is able to send all her children to school and has become a skills trainer to other widows who were once like her.
NEW HOPE, NEW PURPOSE
Lydia’s newfound sense of hope ignited a desire to give back to the ministry in a big way. She is one of dozens of women who decided to “adopt” a vulnerable granny, or “gogo” as they are affectionately referred. The elderly gogos are among the most poor and vulnerable women in the entire community. Lydia’s gogo, Estelle, struggles to look after five orphaned grandchildren on her own. Life was so difficult for her family that the daily feeding program at Mgona’s community centre provided the only meal the children would eat all day. Now, Estelle does not have to face her struggles alone. “Every month I help out my gogo from the profits that I make.” Explained Lydia. “I have seen that this program is going to help us – the women. In the slums you lose the community relationship where the elderly are cared for. So in this way, we can care for the elderly.”
Lydia visits Estelle twice a week to help her with household chores, fetch water and offer encouragement. In the last couple months, she was able to provide Estelle and her grandchildren with maize flour, salt, dry fish, soap, two new chitenges (wraps), and matches. Lydia’s generosity is indeed reminiscent of the widow’s offering in Mark 12, when Jesus declared, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything” (43-44, NIV).