A Story from a Widow in Malawi
ROSEMARY MWANDELILE’S STORY
One in ten African women fifteen and older is a widow. This is a huge demographic and fitting that it is the last group of mothers consider in our month of mothers. Rosemary Mwandelile, from our Widows Program in Malawi, wrote this to us:
Being a widow in any country is not easy! In Malawi, most women do not have jobs outside the home. I had a job when my husband died, but I needed to settle his estate. During this time his family was not very cooperative, and I needed to take time away from my job.
My employer felt that I was absent too often, so I lost my job.
Here I was: married for 29 years but now without a husband and a means
to provide for myself. Shortly after my husband died, two of my five sons also died.
I was left to care for their two children, as well.
I knew about Rafiki because it was at my church at St. Andrew’s CCAP.
The Rafiki Foundation had their first school in our old church building!
One day in church, they announced that the Rafiki Foundation wanted to create a Bible study for women. I was immediately excited and attended the meeting.
Rafiki introduced the Bible study lessons to us. They helped me become spiritually strong, even in the trying moments I was passing through. I could go back home with the knowledge of God’s Word I was gaining with my fellow widows, and it strengthened my spiritual life.
After Bible Study lessons, we were introduced to “Widows Products.” Our first task was to make baskets out of plastic papers. We then handcrafted necklaces made of bush beads called vizuzu, and sold them to the Rafiki Home Office.
The ability to produce something, sell it, and receive money
began to change my physical life.
From the proceeds of my products, I was able to build a septic tank for my house. Before that, my family and I were using an outside pit latrine. Going to a pit latrine at night or in the rainstorms we have in Malawi was always difficult.
Now I am sixty-six years old, and The Rafiki widows continue to meet at my house to study the Bible and create products to sell to the Rafiki Home Office.
Though I may not be physically strong, I am spiritually strong
because of the Rafiki Bible Study.
I continue to be blessed by the Bible lessons, and I am very grateful to have the widows around me as we share the Word of God together.
These are the women you are supporting when you shop with the Rafiki Exchange.
Thank you for your support as we strive to come alongside mothers in Africa.
How a Mother in Africa Takes Care of Her Children
“Wearing your baby” is a new trend these days for moms on the go, but African mothers have been wearing their babies for ages. With no sidewalks and having to use precarious transportation methods, such as riding on the back of a bicycle, wearing her child is the only way an African mom can get around! One might also see a heavy bowl or basket balanced atop the mother’s head with a baby fastened on her back. Motherhood in Africa is certainly not for the fainthearted!
Most mothers in Africa are working mothers. They work in the market, in the fields, and in public works, often with their children in tow. Moms are working to pay rent, put food on the table, and pay school fees, finding whatever opportunity they can in a
high-unemployment context to support their families.
African moms cook without processed or pre-packaged foods or microwaves and many times without electricity. Boiling every drop of drinking-water on a kerosene stove to make it safe for her family and washing every fruit and vegetable to prevent illness, they must be vigilant to keep their children healthy.
So here’s to the African mothers raising their children and caring for their families with love and perseverance! We wish them all, and you, a very happy Mother’s month!
Helping Africans know God and raise their standard of living, one mother at a time.
A Day in the Life of a Mother in Africa
The typical morning routine for those of us in developed countries is familiar: we rise, press the button on our coffee machine, turn a knob and have a hot shower, eat breakfast at home or on the go, and then start our day. But what does an average day look like for mothers living in rural Africa?
According to an article in the Independent, the African mother often wakes before dawn and soon begins her long list of chores. In one day, she may kindle a fire, check to see if her chicken has laid eggs to trade in the market, help her husband for hours in the field, breastfeed her youngest child, and mend her children’s worn clothes.
Without the luxury of running water, African women must walk miles to the nearest well each day. World Vision notes that the average African woman walks over 3.5 miles every day to haul 40 pounds of water, assuming her region is not in a draught. She cares for her husband and children the entire day and well after they are asleep in the evening. Many African women live without electricity and running water, and their only transportation is their feet.
In these difficult conditions, African women must diligently care for their husbands and children.
We at the Rafiki Exchange seek to train African women so they can support themselves and their families. We partner with them, giving them dignified jobs and a chance to utilize their God-given talents as they craft beautiful products and study the Scriptures.
Rafiki Exchange Presents a Month of Mothers
Mom, mother, mum, mamma—these words are used so often by all of us.
A UK study shows that children ask their mom about 300 questions a day, making mothers the most quizzed professionals.
Mother’s Day is a month away, and as we plan to celebrate the special women in our lives, it’s important to remember
the mothers who are overlooked, the mothers who aren’t made to feel special,
the mothers who struggle to provide for their children.
Follow the Rafiki Exchange as we talk about the mothers many overlook.
What do the lives of African mothers look like?
In many African countries, motherhood is especially difficult. Often without adequate resources and support, mothers struggle daily to provide for themselves and their children.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is not unlikely for a mother to lose her child at a young age. According to the World Health Organization, children in Sub-Saharan Africa are 15 times more likely to die before age five than children in developed regions
From a young age, African girls are encouraged to marry and have children. Social traditions are often forced upon them; UNICEF notes that in West and Central Africa 41% of girls marry before reaching the age of 18.
African women are the sole caregivers of their children. Should a mother pass away, then another woman in the family—not the child’s father— would assume the child’s care.
Many African mothers experience a life filled with hard physical labor. Before connecting with Rafiki, mothers in our Widows groups used to break rocks in a quarry for income. Imagine sitting in a pile of rocks all day, breaking them with your bare hands while carrying a child on your back. After joining a Rafiki Widows Group, our African mothers now have hope.
We partner with mothers by giving them dignified work, an income to support their families, and the Rafiki Bible Study to feed their souls.
Ajija is a Grandmother Working for the Women of Hope.
Victoria’s story is similar to that of many other women in Uganda. Her husband died in the mid 1990s, leaving her alone with a young daughter to care for. As she struggled to keep her home and provide food for herself and daughter, she met a German missionary.
This missionary taught Victoria a new skill, weaving. Victoria flourished under the German missionary, and even traveled to Germany to further study the art of weaving.
Since then, Victoria has developed this skill into a highly effective trade. She is strict on quality control, making sure every product is crafted with the highest standard.
The Rafiki Exchange has partnered with Victoria, and now she has been able to turn her weaving into a sustainable income. A few years ago she was able to install electricity in her home, which is incredibly rare in her area. Now she is able to better work on cloudy days. Furthermore, she has been able to pay for her grandson Jonathan's tuition fees. It is her hope to have a wall built around her property soon to give her house greater security.
Victoria has taken this skill and passed it on to others as well. She has 3 highly active students that are working with her. Each Loom Woven Shawl, Wrap, Dish Towel, Scarf, and Placemat
are handwoven by these
special women in Uganda.