Motivation and strategies for a holistic church intervention in care- giving to AIDS widows in Kisumu, Kenya.
This dissertation brings into perspective the plight of AIDS widows in Kisumu. Often widowhood in general focuses on the older women, while AIDS has created a generation of young widows. A high percentage of these widows are immediately pushed into poverty by the death of husbands. AIDS widows' poverty and vulnerability to external shocks and stresses increases dramatically, while the delicate process of juggling competing needs and pressures becomes a far greater challenge. The range of forces against which widows in Kisumu must struggle is formidable: low self-esteem, complex family relationships, hostile or indifferent communities, systemic gender discrimination and harassment, property loss, unemployment or underemployment, lack of education and a daily grind that leaves widows with scant energy to contemplate the possibility of transforming and regaining their dignity/condition. For these reasons this dissertation contends that the church has an obligation to strategise a holistic intervention to care for these widows who are part of the church and society. This dissertation manifests an on going struggle and quest for adequate instruments to understand AIDS widows in the light of God's promise of the fullness of life to all. AIDS leads to severe social, psychological and financial consequences for the affected families, hence the challenging question how the widows can move from deprivation to begin self-reliant sustainable livelihood is addressed. Since widows' lives are complex and constantly changing, their livelihoods wholly depend on their identifying and building their own various strengths, assets and capabilities. In this way the dissertation suggests that the following areas should be secured overtime. Supportive relationships, networks and environments, that is relatives, the church and church organization, government and other agencies should pool and pull together with the widows. Long-term earning power and financial security is badly needed. That means that their property should be secured and their land be on their hands for continuous utilization, contrast to the current state where they are ejected and driven away of their homes. Up-to-date skills, knowledge, self-esteem, motivation, self-confidence and spiritual well being. In this area it is suggested that capacity building would play a major role in moulding their current and future life. Finally the church is challenged to cultivate an alternative theology to address the ever-growing problem of marginalization and violence against widows. That is to say all forms of prejudice, for example stereotyping, isolation and condemnation must be strongly rejected and urgent need for justice, reason and deep faith be employed. As a result the widows would be integrated and feel valued in the society and the church.
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