Verena put on her black gown for the first time after she lost her husband. It was a public signal that she was a widow.
Other women now avoided her when she walked down the dusty roads of her village, Nag El Kesariya. Some in Egypt see a woman without a husband as available. In the eyes of other wives, she was now dangerous. Continue reading
Inflation and insecurity have driven Egypt’s markets to become more local, and more focused on the basics. The result has been hard-hitting for Egypt’s widowed households, who already struggle for life’s necessities. But the new, more informal local economies has also opened up new market opportunities for household businesses who could not compete with larger, more regional retailers before the current crises.
The government has already begun easing Egypt’s heavy food and fuel subsidies. While so far only fuel has been first, the cost of food has also already gone up. Egyptians are beginning to hoard rice and other staples as a hedge against the future. The Egyptian pound has fallen to its lowest value in eight years, and imports on grains and other necessities are increasing.
The soaring cost of transportation is putting local economies at an advantage by making it more difficult to ship goods across larger areas. Meanwhile, the lack of police presence in many Egypt neighborhoods and villages, and rising crime rates, are also shifting the economic advantage to neighborhood-based businesses. Local residents throughout the country have responded by blockading roads and forming neighborhood watches, making it even more difficult to bring goods to market from outside local areas. Continue reading
A big factor in Egypt’s orphan issue is that when a family loses the father, they’re sunk. Traditions do not usually give a widowed mother the opportunity to be able to earn money to support her family. In fact, widows wear black and stay at home, out of the way.
Last year we launched a new micro-credit project for widowed mothers in Egypt. We called it B’edaya, Arabic for “with my own hands.” The goal? Give widowed mothers with children in our flagship program Not Alone ideas, interest-free loans, and training so they can start projects to help their families become financially independent.
The first results are in. Continue reading