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A CHILD WIDOW

..When photographer Poulomi Basu turned 18, she said her mother begged her to
run away from home and make a life for herself in a faraway city, so that she would
not face the same fate."
"Child widows are the legacy of child marriage, something we know less about. That
is a particularly severe injustice. In this case, someone is being robbed of their
childhood and their life thereafter.
Both Basu's mother and grandmother had been married and widowed young; that
meant they could wear only white and were forced to atone for the rest of their lives.
"Widows are regarded as bad omens as witches, as 'man-eaters.' They bring bad
luck. They are paying for sins committed in a past life. The Hindu scripture, the
Vedas, is clear on this point. As long as I can remember, my grandmother only wore
white saris, even until her deathbed. My grandmother became a widow when she was
in her late 20s and there was not single day since my grandfathers death that she
wore colourful clothes...she also followed several rituals in penance," Basu says.
A child widow's job is to repent and atone. They live a life virtually devoid of pleasure
and must wear no other colour but white. They must eschew jewellery, meat, fish, and
social gatherings, even with family. Temples are off limits and they are not allowed to
remarry. They must not leave the house or look men in the eye, as it is said that a
widows gaze will bring bad luck," Basu added. (Selected paragraphs from:
http://www.refinery29.com/2015/10/94675/nepal-child-marriage-young-widows#slide )

The Koirala-Kaesler Foundations Widow Support Centre recently opened in


Kathmandu, has welcomed 60 year od Durga, a widow for the past 54 years!! Yes!
That is correct: 54 years!!!
Durga was a child bride age 5 when she was betrothed to her husband a year or two
older than she. This marriage ensured that she would have a husband to go to when
she reached puberty, about age 14 or 15. Until such time, Durga would remain with her
parents. Marriage of course, meant nothing to such a small child, apart from the
wearing of bright, colourful clothing and jewellery for the marriage ceremony.

(Google Image photos not of Durga)

But well before Durga reached puberty or was able to consummate her marriage, her
child-husband died of unknown causes. And it was there that Durgas life was to
change forever. Durga was now a 6 year old widow, doomed to a life alone and in
mourning at the loss of her husband, something that she would have to do for the
remainder of her life!!
A child widow's job is to repent and atone. They live a life virtually devoid of pleasure
and must wear no other colour but white. They must eschew jewellery, meat, fish, and
social gatherings, even with family. Temples are off limits and they are not allowed to
remarry. They must not leave the house or look men in the eye, as it is said that a
widows gaze will bring bad luck," (quoting once more from Basu)
One positive in Durgas life has been that she was able to attend school and graduated
with her SLC (School Leaving Certificate) at age 15 and thereafter gained employment as an
assistant in health centres.
Now age 60, Durga is leaning new skills in the the KKF Widow Support Centre, skills
that will hopefully enable her to generate a small income stream to supplement her
meagre government widow pension.

Durga

KKF is happy to welcome Durga into its small community at the Widow Support
Centre, together with the other five individuals who have also recently joined the
group., one of whom is a widow, two from abusive relationships and two from
economically poor circumstances.
If you are moved by Durgas story and the mission of the Koirala-Kaesler Foundation to
assist some of Nepals thousands of women in need, please consider making a financial
donation to further the work of the Centre, which is the vision of 23 year old Lata,
herself physically challenged since early childhood and a widow since September 2015,
a mere 7 months after her marriage in February 2015.

Lata has established the K-K Foundation as a living memorial to her late husband and
now manages the first endeavour: the Widow Support Centre. She needs support!
(Latas photo below)

Donations can be made directly to the endeavour through PayPal account via email
address: info@koirala-kaeslerwsc.org