Widows, ophans and theses


I met her in Uganda in 2011.  She was a twin.  Hanging out in the front yard with her brother, playing.

That day I had accompanied my friend Scott (an intern at the time with IJM Uganda) and other IJM staff on a client visit.  Her mother is a widow who was almost driven from their family, home by her in-laws.  Thankfully, IJM had stepped in and helped her get her property back from the perpetrators.

Mama took us around the compound and adjoining small plot of land, to show us how she was progressing.  Fearing abandonment, Baby Girl started wailing.  I picked her up and we wandered around the allotment.  She didn’t smile. In fact, she looked at me suspiciously.  She stopped crying, at least.  When we were about to leave, I went to put her down.  Baby Girl, wasn’t interested.  She grabbed my neck a little tighter and started to cry…

I wonder how she’s doing, two years on.  I wonder how her mother is doing.  Raising her a young family without her husband.  Yet, not destitute, because she’s in her own home.


Last month I completed my Post Graduate Diploma in Development Studies.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to celebrate.  Rather, I spent almost three weeks of what should have been an inter-semester break, anxiously searching for a thesis topic.  I had vague ideas of what interested me.  You know – controversial, radical ideas about…. many issues.  Jennie issues. However, they all seemed to point towards knowledge production for the sake of it.

An afternoon of scribbling on a whiteboard, paper, face-palming and pacing my room, I mulled over Isaiah 1:17:

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.


Although it wasn’t immediately clear in that moment, the memories of my time with IJM were colliding with the cares of my heart and a growing academic interest in Nigeria.  Consequently, I’ve decided to study at the treatment of widows in Nigeria. 

It’s going to be an interesting journey – literally, emotionally, spiritually.  I’m looking forward to building upon what I have learned over the past year.  Most importantly, I would love if this piece of work could contribute in some small way to the issues on the Father’s heart – the Defender of the fatherless.

P.S.  Next blog post, I promise to synthesise what I learned during the past year of study.