Widows Farm Project Report

The Widows Project has managed to sell vegetable and candles and has begun a revolving fund out of the profits through which an individual can be loaned money for their use or business. With the income of the group, school fees were paid for orphans of one widow. Groceries and staples have been provided for some of the most elderly members. Tools for the garden and instruments for candle making are recorded as inventory of the group.

Widows Farm Project
United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe Synod
Update December 2009

The Zimbabwe Synod is one of five synods comprising the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA). It is based in Bulawayo with congregations and schools throughout Matabeleland. The church's greatest constraint is the economic and political situation prevailing throughout the country. As a result of this situation, ordinary Zimbabweans suffer greatly.   

The Widows Farm Project was started in 2007 in the Bulawayo Region when a cry was heard from some of the vulnerable widows. The group was strengthened in 2009, with 35 members of varying ages ranging from younger than 40 to over 80, and fresh financial support beginning in March 2009 from Global Ministries constituents who gave special gifts for the effort. The church gave the group enough land for the farm/garden and gave access to a water supply. Farming training was done by a volunteer widower.   Other potential projects included candle-making and baking. Each member contributed her own knowledge and talents to the projects and taught the other widows.

In December 2009 the Global Ministries Africa Office received news that the number of members in the Widows Farm Project has increased to fifty one. About ten members are bed-ridden and cannot do any work at all. The rest of the widows do all the activities in the Project. They work in the garden, make candles, and are learning new techniques in baking.

ACTIVITIES

GARDENING:  The garden is doing very well and members are selling vegetables and getting some for their own consumption. One can witness the nutritional improvement among group members. The group is quite happy with the garden.

A workshop on vegetable preservation was held and surplus vegetables are now being dried using a solar tent system so that the group can now keep vegetables for a longer period without losing their natural taste and food value.   

CANDLES:  Candle making is carried out in small groups so that each widow is able to participate fully in the activity. After each session, the group shares candles for sale in their community and, therefore, each group has a Treasurer.

After each meeting of the Widows, they visit those who are not able to participate in the project and give them vegetables and candles for use.

BAKING:  Basic training was done for this activity in 2009. Younger widows are moving into cake-making, icing, and decorating. A volunteer has set up a training program for them.

ACHIEVEMENTS

The Widows Project has managed to sell vegetable and candles and has begun a revolving fund out of the profits through which an individual can be loaned money for their use or business.

With the income of the group, school fees were paid for orphans of one widow. Groceries and staples have been provided for some of the most elderly members. Tools for the garden and instruments for candle making are recorded as inventory of the group.

FUTURE PLANS

The widows are looking forward to baking wedding and birthday cakes as an income-generation activity in the next period. Some younger widows seek training in interior decorating as another potential income-generation activity. The group expects to move into the sale of dried vegetables.

At the time of this report (December 2009) the Widows Project was finalizing their plans to provide Christmas "hampers" for the members in celebration of the season.

FINANCIAL

Funds provided by Global Ministries were used to buy garden seeds, sprays, pesticides, fertilizer, tools, and paid a salary for three months to a widower who helped us throughout in the garden.  As of December 31, 2009, Global Ministries provided $1,826.55 for this effort from special gifts designated for this purpose.

CONCLUSION

The report from the UCCSA, Zimbabwe Synod concludes by stating:  Working together has made a strong bond among project members.  They basically enjoy working together, meeting, chatting and visiting each other.  We are looking forward to the growth of the Widows' Farm Project to the rural areas, where there are needy widows also, but with differing needs from their urban counterparts.