MOTHER’S Day is a time of celebration when the extra effort is made to show mothers how loved and valued they are. The purpose is to make mothers feel seen, heard and aware of their importance in their families and the world. But for many mothers who have been abandoned by their children, Mother’s Day is a time of great pain and suffering for these abandoned widows. For reasons such as being too old, too unwell or superstitions, these homeless mothers have been abandoned by their children and family members after they become widows. 

Widowhood carries centuries of discrimination that force women to leave their homes, cut off all communication with their families, refrain from the joys of life such as colorful clothing, music and entertainment; their lives have effectively “ended”. Families bring their widowed mothers and grandmothers to Vrindavan to abandon them on the streets for the rest of their lives. From places across the country, abandoned widows also make their way to Vrindavan with the hope that someone else will take care of them. For these innocent women who have been surrounded by their families all their lives, this sudden abandonment is a mental, emotional and physical shock that is impossible to recover from; it even sends many to their deaths. 

Maitri: an NGO caring for abandoned widows

In the streets and alleyways of Vrindavan, a team of people are on the lookout for homeless widows who have been left alone to fend for themselves. These old and frail women are frightened, starving and in danger of being abused on the streets by strangers and criminals who seek to exploit their unfortunate and vulnerable circumstances. The widows spend their days sitting on the roadside begging for food from people walking by them. If anyone gives them any coins or money, this is saved for their next small meal. The women then find a small corner where they sleep for the night, wake up the next morning and start begging for food all over again. This is how they stay alive. 

Maitri rescues these women from the streets and brings them to their home where they have safe shelter, three healthy meals a day, medical attention, mental health care, assisted living and most of all – a sense of family and companionship with the other widows living at the NGO’s home. Most senior citizens are in need of regular medical check ups and must take their medication on time to keep themselves in good health. Maitri makes sure that the widows have access to the medical support and services they need.

an elderly widow in India praying

In supporting all of their basic needs, Maitri ensures that these abandoned women spend the rest of their lives in comfort and happiness. But for those widows who have even a glimmer of hope at being reconciled with their family members, the NGO reaches out to the women’s families and reunites them once again. In some cases, all that is needed is for the entire family to sit with each other and work out their differences; for others, the separation is more permanent and for them – Maitri exists as a home and place of refuge. To support Maitri, you can donate here

Winnie Singh’s vision

Maitri runs two homes, in Vrindavan and Mathura, and gives the abandoned women basic needs, care and affection that has been missing from their lives. The NGO is founded and headed by Winnie Singh, who established the NGO in 2005 along with Lt. General Bhopinder Singh (Retd.). For almost 20 years, Winnie Singh has cared for abandoned widows and shares that “these women have to beg in front of houses for a handful of food” after having cooked for her children with love all her life. “What would that woman be going through?” she asks. 

two women sitting and talking to each other

“The first aim of Maitri is that these women should understand that they can live life smiling and laughing. They should feel that this is their family,” explains Winnie Singh about the objective of the NGO. The Maitri team understands that the emotional pain is just as important to address as their physical needs. One of the widows at the Maitri home is a woman named Yashoda Devi and she shares her story:

“After my husband passed away 12 years ago, my son slapped me one day. He pulled me by the neck and pushed me onto the road. He left me there. I started crying and asked God, ‘where should I go?’”

Yashoda Devi lives at the Maitri home in Vrindavan, where all her needs are looked after. Today, she can be seen smiling and enjoying her life with the other widows at the home and is grateful for having been rescued.

a group of elderly women smiling at the camera

This Mother’s Day, share your love with abandoned widows 

There are many widows at the Maitri home who have similar stories to Yashoda Devi. Some of them have endured abuse, torture and intimidation for decades before being abandoned on the streets. Winnie Singh’s Maitri home is their only chance to escape from the horrors of life on the streets and live in a safe and loving home filled with women who are joined together in a sisterhood. 

Winnie Singh shares that the NGO is fast running out of funds and that Maitri needs support to keep the home open while bringing more widows in from the streets and into the home. Your charitable contribution can help Maitri accomplish this noble goal. To support Maitri, you can:

Donate Here


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