In commemoration of the International Widow’s Day, marked on 23 June 2023, Chinwe Bode-Akinwande (CBA) Foundation, a non-governmental organisation founded to promote the support of widows and disadvantaged children in the society, has expressed its continued support to give hope and strength to widows and disadvantage children in the society.
International Widows Day serves as a reminder of the collective responsibility to safeguard widows’ rights and well-being. International Widows Day is dedicated to the widows and to bring their hardships into the public eye to drive a change.
For close to a decade, CBA Foundation has continued to be the backbone, giving succour and strength to thousands of underprivileged widows. These women had experienced unbearable and life-threatening experiences following the demise of their spouses. In Africa, most homes have the husband and father as the breadwinner or the only source of making ends met.
A typical example is Jessica ‘pseudonym’, who lost her husband to the cold hands of death. In the blink of an eye, while still grieving in shock and despair, the challenges of culture intensified the pains resulting from the demise. While she was crying, wailing and looking at her children in anguish, thinking where she would pick up the pieces from; then came a knock on her door. Reaching out with her last strength to check on whom was paying her a condolence visit; she met the unimaginable… like a battalion in the military, she met a troop of family members and their cohorts in their different brands of cars, some in chartered taxis and two trucks. Still dazed by the large numbers, the ‘guests’ forced their way into the sitting room.
Unfortunately, they weren’t keen on sympathising with her but rather after the furniture, fitting, and every movable item in the house. They packed everything without demand, except the car keys, which she was reluctant to give up. Untouched by her situation, two hefty men descended on her till she directed them to where the car keys were. Immediately every item – fridge, sofas, microwave, TVs, ACs etc were moved to the waiting truck.
Jessica and her kids were left with only the rug that was laid with adhesive and difficult to be pulled off. She wailed with her kids, gradually giving up on life’s but knowing that she was all her kids had, she had to remain steadfast as with life there remained hope. She later reported the situation to the police, trusting that the security system would come to her rescue. Having made the requested statement, she was rather talked down with questions like ‘you sure say no be you kill am’, ‘wetin you put for him food’… what a dehumansation?
She lost everything, down to ground zero and had no one to lean on, even her husband’s family that she thought were loving – while he was alive – failed to support, let alone have a second thought on the items they had carted away. Jessica started hawking soft drinks, cleaning the streets to make ends meet as she gradually gathered her strength. After all, she was able to provide food for her kids who had dropped out of school.
In a couple of months, they were enrolled in a public school through the support of some church members…
Jessica is not the only woman in such hardships as there are thousands of women spread across the country. Much as we need security in our environment, we need it deployed right to protect us indeed. We need to lend our voice but ask that the root of the matter is seriously reviewed with a very clear and detailed approach to address the ills in our society.
Institutions with well-defined structures and government support need to be established to ensure that the virality of such avoidable hardships is greatly controlled.
Underprivileged widows run to the established systems seeking help and protection, and yet nothing happens. There is a need to trust who should ideally be trusted. We need transparency, and when issues are brought forward, it is handled with a clear strategy, framework, and implementation plan on how it will be followed through.
CBA Foundation asks that as the country forges ahead, especially with the new government, different economic issues and reforms on the table should be looked into by the government and different stakeholders in the place of influence and authority. The foundation seeks that the right people with the right influence are brought to a common ground on the right path.
The foundation asserts: “We stand for #EndBrutality #EndDehumanisation on all grounds. These widows are dehumanised painfully, nothing happens because they are vulnerable. These widows are maltreated, and nothing happens. This is the time to speak up, listen, represent right, and see through the solution we seek. We need to hear the plans, see actions, and what timelines are in place? Be bold to ask the public to track and hold those in authority accountable. #IWD2023 #InternationalWidowsday #June23”