More than 200 women made widows by jihadist militants in Nigeria were this Christmas forced into tears by a non-governmental organization giving surprise aid to them.
Despite the fact that there are more than 258 million widows around the world according to the United Nations, widows have historically been left unseen, unsupported, and unmeasured in societies, the UN says. https://www.un.org/en/observances/widows-day
Nigeria has over eight million disadvantaged widows with over 21 million children, reports PM News. Armed attacks are among leading causes of widowhood, the UN says.
Worried that many of these victims of violence might only watch others feast and rejoice this Christmas, Emancipation Center for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN) decided to donate food rations without prior notice. ECCVN is a Nigerian nongovernmental organization that tracks terrorist attacks and advocates for victims in the country.
“We chose a number of widows and women whose husbands were incapacitated by violence for this intervention,” said Chief Executive Officer of ECCVN, Mr. Solomon Dalyop. “We are doing the same thing in Taraba, Zamfara, Southern Kaduna and Benue States,” said Solomon to The Light Bearer.
Each beneficiary received a bag of rice, salt, seasoning and a gallon of cooking oil with a N8,500 ($18) stipend. Many of them lost for words burst into tears out of joy and surprise. “We never thought anyone knew or cared about us,” said a leader of the widows, Ms. Ruth Sylvanus.
“We never imagined being remembered at a time like this, let alone receiving any donations,” she said to The Light Bearer. “We lost everything when our husbands were killed. Most of us here lost houses, businesses and food crops during the attacks that claimed our husbands and we had concluded that we will celebrate Christmas with no fanfare or special feats as we used to,” said Ms. Sylvanus whose husband and relations were killed in recent invasion of Bassa Local Government Area by militants from the Fulani tribe.
Ms. Lydia Sunday, a young mother whose husband was incapacitated by violence also said she was stunned by the donation. “So even people like us can be remembered at Christmas? Even people like us can celebrate Christmas?” she said erupting into tears.
A Pastor from a Yelwan Zangam, a Christian suburb near Jos, attacked by jihadist factions on August 24 – Rev. Yusuf Sati said many of the widows were living in misery, but the interventions will ease their sufferings.
ECCVN had prior to the donations distributed mobile phones and safety kits to volunteer civilian watchmen in communities under threat in Plateau State. It also organized a rally in a troubled Riyom town on the southwest of Jos to demand a “Christmas without terror”, as well a Christmas fanfare for traumatized survivors of violence in Yelwan Zangam.