Francisca Walter’s story

Francisca Walter’s story

I will use this opportunity to tell you a personal story:

I lost my husband of 29 years at the beginning of 2018, through a ghastly car accident in Cameroon. As always, the widow gets the harshest treatment from the in-laws. I was not spared. Most widows end up abandoning everything and running for their lives and those of their children. They do so because, first, they do not know their rights, and secondly, they don’t have the resources to fight for those rights. They end up accepting whatever the in-laws sugg-est, including getting into partnership, or “marrying”, one of their deceased husband’s brothers just to survive.

When I arrived home for my late husband’s funeral, I was denied access to the bedroom I shared with my late husband by his own mother (My mother-in-law) – who herself is a widow – under the pretext that it was a “cultural thing.” I spent that time in the guest room, with my children being hosted by my very good friend at her house. We were denied access to the last memory. You can imagine how devastating this can be, and the toll it takes on your mental health?

We returned home in Canada after the funeral, and started the legal process to sort my late husband’s estate, only to be told by my in-laws (his mother included) that they would prefer the child my late husband had out of wedlock be the administrator of his estate, in spite of the fact that I have been legally married (monogamous) to him for 29 years, with three legitimate sons of adult age.

I decided to take the matter to Court, “The Tribunal de Grande Instant”, in Bonanjo – Douala, to have the court decide. I am at the same time taking care of my children. I could do this because I had learned to be independent from the very first day I got married. While I knew marriage was a good thing for every young woman, I also knew, there was no way I could be 100% dependent on my husband. I could do all of this because I prayed and put in the hard work. I used to ponder what could have happened if I didn’t have all the resources available? What would my life be as an underprivileged widow? What would have been my place in a family which thought that their late brother spent all his revenue on me? A family that looks at me as a threat and a “Property”?

This got me thinking of the situation a lot of widows face back in Cameroon, and are silent about. The lack of knowledge of their rights and what they should do right after the passing of their spouses. They are left on their own. No income to take care of themselves and their children. They have no means and resources to reach out for counsel from a legal professional. They think it is normal. I said to myself, I need to do something to help these vulnerable widows. I need to use my story, experience and network, to put some “first aid” plan in place for these women. It is for this reason that I decided to partner with the Canada Virtuous Women, whose platform is helping qualified vulnerable and underprivileged widows in Canada and Cameroon.

Your donations will help widows start up or enhance a business. It will help them have access to legal counsel. It will make them INDEPENDENT.

God bless you for helping these women.

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