No more nights in the cold after gift of house for outcast widow

A woman declared an outcast by an entire village will no longer spend nights in the cold under a mango tree. And neither will she live in fear of her dilapidated hut crumbling on her.

Four days after the Nation Newspapers carried her story, (OUTCAST WIDOWS PLEA FOR HELP By STELLA CHERONO and TOM OTIENO This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Posted Friday, June 15th 2012 at 22:30),  Mama Consolata Munjal of Kaya Village of Boro, Alego-Usonga in Siaya County, Kenya, has a new hut, thanks to a well-wisher. 

Mama Munjal's story drew outrage from the public. A group of men contracted by Mr Joshua Odongo Oron, Director, Widows & Orphans International, moved into her compound with materials and built her a three-room house. The team of workers led by Mr Maurice Ogolla, suddenly turned the home of Mama Munjal, 68, into a beehive of activity as men began the construction at 6am and by evening, had finished building the house. 

"We bought 25 iron sheets, poles, frames and nails and we are building a semi-permanent house that will house this widow and shield her from what she has been going through," Mr Ogolla said. 

He said that the construction of the house had cost Kenya Shs. 90,000 ≈ £700.00. The widow will also enjoy the comfort of sleeping on a new bed and mattress, under a mosquito net bought by Mr Oron. Other than the construction and the bed, Mr Oron bought food for the widow.

The story was carried by the Saturday Nation Newspaper on 16th June 2012.Local and International organisations criticised the customs and traditions that subjected the widow to torture. 

As the construction continued, relatives and neighbours, including the area chief started trooping into her homestead giving it a lively new lease of life. It included people who would not set foot in her homestead just days earlier.

Mama Munjal had defied the Luo tradition of having sex with any man in a ritual that is a prelude to wife inheritance.  For her defiance, she has been declared an outcast, a harbinger of bad omen. "If I go to the river and fetch the water, the river will never be visited by anyone again, and I would be punished for that. Even when I go to fetch firewood, no one can help me raise the bundle up to my head. I am not wanted," she said. "I have cried till I have no more tears," she had told the Nation in an interview.

But on Wednesday, all that changed. "I am happy that God has sent these people to build me a house. I want to thank all of them and I know I will now be safe and comfortable. I am also happy that I received visitors in my home today," a smiling Mrs Munjal said.

Consolata Munjal's story is a case study of what poor widows in Luo Nyanza (Kenya) undergo when their husbands die and they are left suffering, victims of age-old and outdated traditions. 


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