When Beatrice’s husband died, she was shunned by her community. Because of her community’s cultural beliefs, even family members stopped associating with her for fear that it would bring death to them.
Without her husband or any support system, Beatrice needed to find work to provide for her six children, but there weren’t any opportunities in her rural community.
“If we stayed in the community, my children would have to drop out of school to work and help support our family,” she said. “I didn’t want this for them.”
Beatrice decided to move her family to Nairobi so she could get a better job and her children could stay in school, however, the only area within Nairobi that she could afford was in a slum.
When she first moved to the slum, she found another widow and lived with her for the first five months. Her first job only paid 100 KSH per day (about 90 cents a day). This woman was a teacher at Mathare Community Outreach (MCO), a church-run school in the slum, and quickly helped Beatrice get a job there as a cook.
Soon she was able to get her own home. All her children began to attend MCO where they received meals through the feeding program and financial support from the church to pay their school fees.
After getting the job, Beatrice began attending the church with her children.
“They welcomed me in the church, and after years of being rejected for being a widow, I felt like I had a community,” she said. “Now people invite me to their homes and I have a family again.”
Recently, Beatrice became a deaconess in the church and was ordained to be a leader after many years of serving and volunteering.
“The church has helped me so much in my faith, with my children’s education,” Beatrice said. “I don’t know where we would be without the church.”
Beatrice is grateful for the help she has received but prays that cultural norms will change in the future to better support widows. Serving as a deaconess, one of her main roles is to mentor others who are going through similar struggles.
“Now I just want to try to help others, the way I received help,” she said.
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