Writer offers help for African women

RANCHO SANTA FE — Author Jane L. Crane‚ of Rancho Santa Fe, examines the plight of 60 widows in seven different African countries, giving first-hand accounts from widows who survived the genocide in Rwanda, ran from the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, survived the “rape capital of the world” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, fought for their land in Zambia, and coped with HIV/AIDS in a black township in South Africa in her book, “Half a Piece of Cloth, the Courage of Africa.”

Crane exposes the daily realities these women face and documents how cultural factors and superstitions often compound the widows’ suffering, putting their children at great risk for little or no education and a life of poverty and despair.

Part one of “Half a Piece of Cloth” tells the widows’ stories. Part two offers solutions, including education, economic empowerment, and individual, grassroots and other efforts to bring about change, with the goal of helping Africa’s widows to have a full and satisfying life, or what Crane calls “a whole piece of cloth.”

“When I heard a speaker from Zambia at the United Nations describe the horrors that widows go through culturally after the death of a husband, my life was changed. Eventually, I traveled to Africa multiple times to see for myself. Half a Piece of Cloth is the result,” the author said.

Through her graduate work on women’s land issues in Sub-Saharan Africa, Crane discovered the desperate situation of widows in that region, a topic that has been largely ignored. After interviewing dozens of desperate widows in Africa, she founded Adopt A Widow. Similar to a sponsored-child program, Adopt A Widow helps African widows learn a skill to support themselves and their children in a one-year program while experiencing emotional healing. The author of the “Map for Gender Reconciliation,” she holds a master’s degree in Peace and Justice and is currently working on her doctorate in Oxford, England, on Africa’s widows.

For moroe information, visit halfapieceofcloth.com.


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