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Christ-Centered Widows Empowerment

Christ-Centered Widows Empowerment

Hi Toby,

To look after orphans and widows in their distress...

51,000 people in the community where we work are on HIV/AIDS Anti-Retroviral therapy pills (according to the local health clinic nurse). That's in a community of roughly 200,000 people.

Let that sink in.

And this is in a country where half the population is under 15.

As a comparison, the number of people in California taking AIDS medication was 136,000 in 2021 (according to That's in a state with an estimated population of 39 million people.

To say HIV/AIDS has devastated the poorest of the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa is a massive understatement. It is a place of intense brokenness and suffering. When we began working in Zambia, the life expectancy was just 39 years old. Today, because so many people have died from AIDS or gotten on Anti-Retroviral Therapy medication, it is closer to 60.


What does this look like at a household level?

On average, the homes we serve in Ngombe have ten people in them. They are tiny two-room houses where it is common for the matriarch to be a widow with several children and many grandchildren. Many times, they are orphans, having lost one or both parents.

In the case of Mrs. Phiri, a small, elegant woman with a commanding presence, she has eight people in her home. She is 78 years old. Standing in her sideyard, we hear Emmanuel, the teen responsible for her garden, talk eagerly about the garden details. He explains how the onions don't do well here, but the Chinese Cabbage flourishes. He has an energetic tone as he describes the dirt, the fertilizer, and the outcomes. He points out where he draws the water and how he's put up fencing to block the garden from the neighbor's chickens. Emmanuel is passionate about making this garden work! He seems to love serving Mrs. Phiri.

When asked how Emmanuel is doing, she said, "he's doing very well with it - he's a good boy.". She explained how her entire family benefits from the food. But not just them but her neighbors too.

Then, in a touching moment, Emmanuel stopped and thanked us, the donors, for helping him with the monthly stipend. The money he receives, roughly $50 U.S. dollars, is a game changer.

Families in Zambia make $130 U.S. dollars a month on average, but in Ngombe Compound, it is frequently much less. When we do home visits and inquire about people's situations, we often hear people saying their monthly household income is $60-$90 dollars. On the lower end of that financial spectrum, the household's children typically won't be enrolled in school because the cost of a pencil or school uniform prohibits them from attending.

There is typically no food in these houses, and the family's common cultural practice is to have a single afternoon meal consisting of a white corn maze (they call Nshima) and a cooked green vegetable. On days when the head of the house can't purchase any Nshima and greens, the family doesn't eat for the day.

Our program is simple - employ local teens to plant and manage backyard gardens for widow-headed households in the community.

The impact flows in two directions:

First, the extra food helps feed their family, making it easier to survive the daily struggle. The cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce contribute to household nutrition. But it's more than that - it's empowering the widow to provide for her family. For families where the life of the home centers around an afternoon meal - giving grandma more to work with is powerful. Hope for a better tomorrow means a lot.

Second, the teens who do the work get a monthly stipend that helps them pay their school fees and contribute to their household. Each one is responsible for managing ten gardens. They typically enter the program with no prior work experience or job skills. Often, they have already dropped out of school because of a lack of money, but our program gives them the funds to re-enroll.

The program trains the teens in good gardening skills. But they also learn to work with clients to solve problems and find success by serving others. Their typical routine is to attend to their ten gardens in the morning, go to school, and check on the gardens again in the afternoon.

When we started the program, we weren't even sure the dirt in Ngombe would support growing plants. But that's worked out ok. Nor were we sure if the gardens would be raided by hungry neighbors. But that didn't happen either.

Our best estimate is that there are 17,000 households in Ngombe Compound. Many need this type of support.

Today, our program consists of a manager and twelve students. Together they manage 120 gardens and impact over 1,200 community members. The only question is - will God bring more donors to our ministry to help us expand?

In 2024, we hope to double the size of this program. We are looking for financial partners who are willing to make a monthly gift so we can recruit and train more local teens - and help more widows and their households.

If you'd like to get involved, simply set up your giving pledge here.

Join Us In Serving Widows Today

We are incredibly grateful for your support and are believing for an incredible 2024!

Jason & Cinnamon!

More About Jason Miles: Jason holds an MBA with an emphasis in International Non-Profit Management, as well as an undergraduate degree in Organizational Management. He served previously as the Senior Vice President of Advancement at Northwest University, and prior to that as Executive Director at World Vision where he served for sixteen years. He co-founded Sew Powerful in 2010 with his wife Cinnamon.

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