Albinos in Mara get new hopes after knowing their rights

After many decades of sufferings, people with albinism in Mara Region have started what they see as a new promising life that will enable them have access to fundamental rights, as well as participating in development processes like other members of the society.

This follows implementation of the first project designed to enable people with albinism in the region to know their rights and to be widely recognized by other stakeholders, including the local government and beyond.

The Tanzania Albino Society (TAS) Mara Regional Office is implementing the one- year project with financial support from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS). Implementation of the project kicked off January 2012 and it is scheduled to end in July 2014, according to Helena Paul, the Secretary of TAS Mara Region Office.

“People with albinism in Mara have for the first time in the history realized that they have right to life, education, jobs, married, good health care and other basic rights after receiving trainings organised under this project“, says Helena (32), one of the people with albinism in Mara Region.

The entire region of Mara has around 200 people living with albinism with Musoma rural rated as having highest number, according to Helena. She says, majority of people with albinism in the region cannot read or write because they have not gone to school. “It is hardly 10 per cent of us who can read and write. Many have not gone to school and it is because they are living in a dark environment,” she said.

The project funded by FCS is titled ‘Utetezi na Ushawishi wa Haki’ (Defend and Advocacy for Rights) seeking to address chronic problems faced by people with albinism in the region and make a difference.

The initiative has seen people with albinism in Mara Region opening a small office in Musoma municipality and having a more organised voice, as opposed to the past. The project has further created significant awareness on the presence of people living with albinism and their needs to the government and the society.

She adds: “the office of TAS in Mara alone has enabled more people and institutions in the region to recognize our presence and needs as people with albinism.”

Rehema Abdalah (39), a woman with albinism in Musoma sees the FCS funded project as a gate way to good life for herself and other people with albinism in the region after many years of sufferings. “The training we have got from the project has already enabled me to start selling tomatoes and vegetables in Musoma town and I now feed my children without difficulties,” says Rehema a mother of six children.

On his side Mathias Sambai (41), another project beneficiary says, knowing much about their rights has enabled to be provided with special lotion that keeps their skin healthy against rays of sunshine.

“Apart from missing rights to education, employment, health etc, people with albinism are still not adequately involved in development processes,” laments Helena Paul, the Secretary of TAS Mara Region Office - thus appealling for more funds to execute more campaigns on the rights of people with albinism in the region. “We still need more support,” she says.

She however concludes: “There are still life threats to people with albinism in some parts of Mara. We urge the government and other stakeholders to help protecting us.”

The Lake Zone has of late experienced brutal killings of people with albinism mainly related to witchcraft.

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