Widows and Orphans Development Foundation

KvK number 80821162

Every little helps

One of the Tanzanian widows with her children in Bariadi District, Simiyu Region.

Why widow empowerment?

When widows are denied the right to access, own, control or inherit property and the land they live on, it is a violation of their rights. When these women and their children are evicted from their homes because their husbands have died, it is a violation of their rights. When a lack of savings means a lack of health care for themselves and education for their children and grandchildren, it is a violation of their rights. And enduring traditional practices directed at widows, which are inhumane and degrading, is a serious violation of their human rights" (UNFPA, 2011).

The quote above summarises the challenges that widows and their children face after the death of their husbands particularly in developing countries and why we need to empower them.

The plight of widows is a hidden issue in many developing countries. Millions of widows and their children have become the poorest of the poor, often invisible, forgotten and unheard. The challenges faced by widows have largely been invisible to policymakers and the public in general. Their children also have to endure poverty, loss of schooling, child labour, and other forms of deprivation.

A common consequence of widowhood in traditional societies is the withdrawal of children from school. This is because majority of the widows find themselves unable to meet the costs associated with their children's education as they cannot afford to buy a pair of uniforms or other school supplies for their children.

These children are withdrawn from school also because they are supposed to help their mother to earn an income through various activities ranging from street vending to working in neighbours farms for a very litle pay.

Girls are likely more affected also because they are needed to care for younger siblings while their widowed mothers struggle with livelihood activities. Girls who stop schooling are more likely to undergo child marriage and become child mothers.

Pili, a widowed mother of three children has been facing a lot of difficulties in providing the basic needs for her children. She has no reliable income as she depends mainly on subsistence farming which does not cater for all the basic needs of her family.

"I appreciate so much the support given by WODF which has enabled my son to attend school regularly now. I plead to WODF to help me with seed funding so that I can establish an alternative livelihood activity to generate income so that I can support my family in a sustainable way."

Why support orphans' education?

Orphans are less likely to be in school and more likely to fall behind or drop out, thus compromising their abilities and future prospects. Many orphans have not been attending school regularly because they have no uniforms and the important school supplies such as exercise books and pens. 

Here, some of the orphans who have received school uniforms from WODF have this to say:

Elizabeth Tumaini (left)
“I am so thankful to WODF for sponsoring my education. My dream after my studies is to be a nurse so that I can help people with health problems.” 

Samwel Kazi (right)
“I am happy I have the school uniforms now, thanks to WODF.  My promise is to study hard because I want to realise my dream of becoming a lawyer so that I can help poor people to defend their rights through the law.” 

WODF is currently raising funds to support these orphaned children with school supplies in Bumbuta village, Kondoa district, Tanzania .

Background of the organization

"The loss of a partner is devastating. For many women, that loss is magnified by a long-term struggle for basic needs, their human rights and dignity. They may be denied inheritance rights to the piece of land that they relied on for livelihood or evicted from their homes, forced into unwanted marriages or traumatizing widowhood rituals. They are stigmatized for life, shunned and shamed. And, many of these abuses go unnoticed, even normalized." UN Women, 2018.

The Widows and Orphans Development Foundation (WODF) was established in The Netherlands whereby it was officially incorporated and registered in November 2020. It is a non-profit organization that aims at contributing to address the challenges faced by indigent widows and their children.

The overall goal of WODF is to empower the disadvantaged widows and orphans socially and economically in Africa, mainly in Tanzania, particularly in rural areas so as to alleviate extreme poverty amongst them, enhance their capabilities, address socio-cultural issues that violate their human rights, and help them live a resilient and fulfilling life. The organization also implements some programs in The Netherlands aimed at enhancing the psychosocial wellbeing of widows. The main beneficiaries of WODF are widows and orphans although destitute women and children can also be targeted under exceptional circumstances.

A widow from Makete, Tanzania had this to say: “After the death of my husband, there was a meeting of my husband’s relatives and it was agreed that one of my brothers-in-law had to inherit me. They informed me that in our culture, I have to be inherited so as to preserve the genealogy of my late husband. I refused to be inherited. After telling them my decision, they grabbed almost all the property which I owned with my husband; they took the house, bed, tables, chairs, couches and some plots of land. I managed to collect only my clothes.” (Kessy et al 2010:18). 

About the founder

The founder of WODF Jamila Sulu is a lawyer, a human rights practitioner, a gender and development expert, and a mother who became a widow at the age of 38. She lived as a widow in Tanzania for seven years after which she remarried in 2019 and relocated to the Netherlands where she currently lives.

She was driven to establish this organization after experiencing first-hand the situation that widows and their children go through after the death of their husbands.

Jamila Sulu

Founder and Chairperson of WODF 


WODF envisions a society in which widows, orphans, and destitute persons achieve freedom from poverty, live in dignity, enjoy human rights and realize their full potential thereby contributing actively to personal, family, community, national and international development.


Improving the lives of widows, orphans, and destitute persons through economic and social empowerment, access to basic needs, advocating for their human rights, and undertaking sustainable solutions to build resilience amongst them.

Objectives of WODF

General objectives  

 (i) To help widows, orphans, and destitute persons achieve freedom from poverty, live in dignity, enjoy their human rights, and realize their full potential. 

(ii) To help widows, orphans, and destitute persons build economic and social resilience.

(iii) To contribute to the transformation of the lives of widows, orphans, and destitute persons for them to become vital members of society.

Specific objectives

(1) To empower widows and destitute persons economically and socially by equipping them with entrepreneurial and other (professional) skills and, where possible, providing them with necessary resources to enable them to pursue income-generating activities.

(2) To mobilize financial and material support to enable orphans living in extreme poverty and destitute children to access the basic needs such as food, clothing, water, shelter, schooling material, and other necessities to facilitate their right to education and their overall wellbeing.

(3) To conduct research and create awareness on issues affecting widows and advocate against harmful cultural practices, discrimination, and other prejudices that sustain injustice against widows.  

(4) To create awareness on human rights, gender-based violence, and promote the principle of non-discrimination to ensure inclusive society. 

(5) To advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights of widows, orphans, and destitute persons who will benefit directly or indirectly from the activities of the Foundation. 

 (6) To create platforms for peer to peer encouragement and inspiration for widows as well as for emotional, spiritual, and social support to rebuild their lives with a renewed positive perspective.

(7) To collaborate with other organizations in advocating for policy and legal reforms with a view of promoting the rights of widows and orphans. 

Want to support us reach more underprivileged widows and orphans? Kindly donate via the following:

Bank Account / IBAN: NL24 INGB 0006 3891 72
Account Name: Stichting Widows and Orphans Development

For more information about donating to us, please contact us via:
Mobile: +31644534229 (for call and whatsapp)
Landline: +31 (010) 279 94 30 (call only) 
Email: [email protected]
We will be happy to hear from you.

With your support:
√ We can retain the orphaned children in school and ensure their right to education.
√ Lift the underprivileged widows out of extreme poverty and build self-reliance to them.
√ Emancipate widows from cultural practices that violate their human rights and dignity.

Kindly support our work in empowering widows and supporting orphans'  education.  Donate easily and securely  by clicking on the donation button below.