India is the home of over 55 million widows.
With the death of their husbands,
widows are considered only a burden to their families and are cast out of their homes to beg in the streets, often having to travel thousands of miles for refuge.
Known as the City of Widows, Vrindavan has been estimated to be the home of up to 20,000 widows who have taken shelter of its holy land. Discarded and neglected by their remaining families, the widows have made a home in a place they hope will protect them. Within Vrindavan's limits are Govardhan town and Radha Kunda, where tens of thousands of pilgrims visit the sacred land, temples, and kundas (holy waters) there. The widows are often found sitting on old sacks at the feet of these traveling pilgrims, their begging tins beside them along with what few possessions they own. Lying next to them are often piles of trash left by the pilgrims and locals upon whom their livelihood depends.
With harsh living conditions and social stigmas against them, it's nearly impossible for widows to live outside of begging. Yet, when given the opportunity, these women are vibrant and desire meaningful engagement. Many view their years ahead and hope, despite their abandonment, to continue their lives with substance and value.
So we decided to do something about it.