One of our most vital programs is Ashraya, our longstanding ministry to widows. Through Ashraya — a word that means “shelter” in Sanskrit — we currently care for 26 widows, the majority of whom live within a rickshaw ride of our main campus.
In addition to the monthly support we provide, medical care is also given to each of our widows. Theresa, our primary Ashraya caregiver, visits our widows regularly. She assesses their needs, evaluates their living conditions, and provides spiritual support to each one. This year, Jyosna, a member of Madhurawada Church, has begun working alongside Theresa to visit and support these precious ladies, making sure that no one is forgotten.
Last year we mourned the passing of three of the widows in our care: Appayama and Yella Rao died very tragically of heat stroke, while Nagamma died of natural causes. In the months following their deaths, we began caring for seven more widows, bringing the total number of widows in our care to twenty-six.
What we’ve discovered is that the elderly are often terribly neglected in our context, and widows are especially stigmatized. As one young man told us, “Some do not like to see the face of a widow.” We, on the other hand, love to see the faces of our widows and to shower them with as much love and support as we can. Last Christmas we gave each of our widows new clothes and hosted a special program in their honor. Caring for these women in such a personal way is a great privilege, one we do not take lightly.
As you have opportunity, pray for the 26 widows in our care, but especially for Samadanam, who is suffering from viral fever; Simhacahalam who has severe arthritis and is unable to bend her knees; and Rahel who is HIV-positive and struggles with the side-effects of this terrible disease, one she lost her husband to just a few years ago. Pray, too, for Theresa and Jyosna as they provide care and support to each of these women.
Since 1992 Vision Nationals has been planting churches, training nationals, and caring for India’s most vulnerable. Donations to support our work are greatly appreciated. All gifts are tax-deductible and can be designated to the ministry, fund, or project of your choice.
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