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Dorcas Widows Project (90230)

Many widows in West Africa have little or no material and moral support after their husbands’ deaths. Often their in-laws want to take their children and sometimes even accuse them in the death of their husbands. Sometimes these mothers give in to the intense cultural pressures; other times they fight to keep their children.

The Dorcas Widow's project has stepped forward to provide spiritual, social, and physical support for these marginalized women.

The goal of the project is to provide capital in the form of micro-loans to widows to help them start small business. Each widow choses what she will do—pottery, vegetable gardening, breeding of animals such as goats, sheep and cows, or cereal banks. Some open stalls in the market to sell food or wares. Each widow attends a training seminar which gives her knowledge and tools to invest money and to earn the amounts she needs for living and her children’s education.

We hear touching stories from the widow beneficiaries who have proven to be skilled entrepreneurs. Many report that they are able to buy medecines for their children and send them to school. One widow reports enthusiastically, "I was able to buy a wife for my son!"

Today, two well-organized programs are thriving in Niger and Burkina Faso, with dreams to expand into Benin. The Burkina Faso project has given funds to about 300 widows and the Niger project to 30 widows.

Beginnings of the Project

In early 2006, SIM missionary Soula Isch began a speaking tour in Burkina Faso. There she spoke to hundreds of women who were eager to hear the Word of God. They often sat beneath handmade hangars in sweltering 40º C (104º F) temperatures. Soula asked if she might have a session with the widows, and was amazed by the numbers of widows present at every conference, and at the stories they shared. These widows felt lonely, and often had no means to care for their children. They were desperate for someone to come alongside and help. The Spirit of God spoke to Soula, herself a widow since the death of her husband, Jean Isch, in 1999, but the task seemed too great.

By the end of her final conference, Soula could no longer resist God’s voice pushing her to step out in faith. She asked the widows present to pray for her. "I wanted to become their ambassador, their voice!" she says. And with that, she made a promise to become an advocate for those who could not speak themselves. The Dorcas Widows project was born soon afterwards.

"The Dorcas project has given me new energy," says Soula, whose vocation of discipleship and conference speaking have made her well-loved by women across West Africa and in her home countries of Canada and Greece for the past five years. "I feel very challenged, but God has promised to provide for the widows and the orphans. He is faithful. A.B. Simpson said, 'God does not want great men and women, but he wants men and women who will dare to prove the greatness of their God.'"

Pray

  • for the business training and other support resources to be effective and easy to grasp
  • for Louise Ouoba, recently widowed, who manages the entire project in Burkina Faso!
  • for Mrs. Sibdou Douna, a pastor’s wife who visits and encourages widows in their homes in Burkina Faso and gives counsel to Mrs. Ouoba.
  • for plans about expanding into Benin
  • for the dream of a Dorcas Center in Niamey, Niger. Currently, a rented church building hosts seminars and other activities.
  • that the Lord would raise up a full-time missionary, perhaps a widow, to carry these programs forward in Niger and Burkina Faso
  • for enthusiastic women of God around the world to join these widows through prayer and financial capital

If you would like to partner with Soula and her teams in Niger and Burkina Faso to care for widows in practical ways through micro-loans and spiritual support, then we would love to hear from you today. Thank you!

Dorcas Widow Project update: March 2011


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