While some erroneously look down on the widow, helping widows is important enough to be mentioned in Tanach. This false belief was highlighted once again in a message sent to me in response to a campaign that I was running. The campaign is all about assisting a widow. I am sad that anyone would have such thoughts. So I decided to share a little more about my work assisting widows and orphans. Yes, widows do have very real needs.
Did you know that I am working on developing an OT centre? Well, one of the services of this centre focuses on empowering widows and orphans, according to their own unique needs.
Background to my work with widows and orphans
Actually, helping widows and orphans is not something new for me. It has been an interest of mine for very many years for a few reasons:
1) My grandmother was widowed when she was half way into her pregnancy with my late father, i.e. 4 1/2 months. As a child I did not really understand what a widow is. However, gradually, the needs of the widow became etched into who I am from a very young age.
2) As you can see above, my father was born without a father. I, in turn, was orphaned from my father when I was still at school.
3) My mother was widowed from her second husband during my first year of working as an OT.
These experiences sensitized me to the needs of widows and orphans. As a result, in recent years, they have become part of the services I am developing. Yes, real services. Let’s take a look at this a little further.
Some of the Services of my Centre
I am working on develop an OT centre. There has been a change to the services I offer. There are many factors that have contributed to this change and hence a change to my initial vision for a treatment centre. These service focus on assisting women in the role of wife and mother. Some of the women are blessed with being married, G-d willing for many healthy years. Others are widows. The widows have certain needs and those who are orphans have other needs. These needs have to be addressed. I am not the first to consider empowering widows and orphans. The need to assist widows and orphans is outlined in many places in Tanach. Here is just one example:
“כל אלמנה ויתום לא תענון”
All or every widow and orphan do not oppress (Exodus 22:21)
In an earlier post, I have introduced some ideas about Occupational Therapy and Widows.
Creating the right environment and being able to meet the needs that I have identified requires funding. For quite a few years I tried developing a store based on the concept of the thrift store or op shop. As you can see in the video below, we collected up new, un-used items. Some of these items were given to orphans to begin their new home of orphans. The remaining items were sold in order to cover the expenses of setting this up.
Sadly, we had very poor support of our sales. One of the biggest problems was the extent to which buyers insisted on undercutting our prices. When we moved a little over a year ago, we lacked the funds to both move our store and to house our store. As a result we sent over 40 boxes of gifts to an orphanage in Jerusalem. The result was that at least 7-8 Kallot from the orphanage had a substantial start to their new home.
Another service we had been setting up is our bridal gown Gemach. Sadly, due to lack of funds, we are having to sell off and close this service too. However, we have not given up. We have merely changed to a different business structure.
Changes to our Services
Our new venture can be seen on our online store. As you can see from the start of our new store, instead of collecting unwanted items and selling them at low prices, we are working on making up a range of gifts and selling them at proper prices. Some of these gifts come from my own art and creativity. There will, however, be gifts made by widows and orphans in order to help to give them the start in becoming self-sufficient.
Learning from other Programs to help Widows
For those who still like to judge me, let us take a look at some wonderful work happening in the US by widows helping widows.
If you have watched the above video, you will come across a powerful statement:
“Grief is not taboo and it is not contagious” ~ Audrey Pellicano RN MS
I hope to share further important work happening to strengthen widows and orphans. Both of these are very important.
I hope that by reading a little about the work I am involved in, that those who like to judge the fact that I am currently assisting a specific widow will change their mind. Those who have suffered from the loss of a spouse or parent are not contagious. They have done nothing wrong and they are in deed in need of our help.
This post is written by Shoshanah Shear, occupational therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of “Tuvia Finds His Freedom” and author of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story“