One of the most neglected groups of people in today’s African society are the widows. This was not the case in historic African culture, in which widows lived with their extended families and were honored as elders. However, recent upheavals in many African communities have caused millions of widows to be left to fend for themselves–calamities like war, the AIDS pandemic, forced removal to refugee camps, urbanization, and the cultural confusion caused by modernization. Many widows are left with children and grandchildren to care for, but they have no training in the skills they need to support themselves. The Heart of Africa widows’ project, under the direction of Hazel Seavey, provides vulnerable women with the skills, local support group, spiritual guidance, materials, and start-up loans to start their own businesses and build a fellowship of like-minded women.
Hazel Seavey coordinates the ministries of Heart of Africa for vulnerable African women. Among the most neglected groups of people in Africa, widows face daunting challenges just to survive, much less to provide for their families and make a contribution to the welfare of the community. Hazel and her husband Keith live and work in Washington, Maine, but she regularly travels to various countries in Africa to help women start their own businesses and work together for their common welfare. Most of her work to date has been with groups of widows in Southern Sudan in partnership with Pastor Michael Gatkek and his African Relief Ministries. However, in 2014 she met with groups of widows and women who had recently been released from prison in both Kenya and Uganda. As she has done in Sudan, Hazel will train them in micro-business, organize them in cooperatives of 30 women each, give them each a loan to start their businesses, and provide them with materials for spiritual and personal growth.
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