Supporting a Program to Eliminate Discrimination against People with Albinism in Tanzania

Project location: TANZANIA
Project start date: June 2012 - Project end date: June 2013
Project number: 2012-041
Beneficiary: Tulime ONLUS


The project aims to face the problem of discrimination against people suffering from albinism in the Kilolo district, from a health and socio-economic point of view. As a matter of fact, a census of the villages in the Kilolo district (carried out in order to build up a database with information about life condition of people suffering from albinism) shows a dramatic health condition due principally to high altitude where the villages of the Kilolo district are located (approximately 200 metres above sea level). Indeed the sun is merciless and causes  serious burns on the face and shoulders. Furthermore none of them has ever undergone an eye examination, they actually haven't got suitable tools to protect themselves from sun (sunglasses, hats, suitable clothing, skin creams etc).
On the other hand, people suffering from albinism have problems of integration into the social life due to stigma, and they can't even access any financial opportunity.
In addition, they are thought to have magical powers and they are even used by witch doctors to work out matters of evil eye and diseases. Besides, in Tanzania because of stigma and superstition, albinos are discriminated, ridiculed, beaten and even killed. Very few of them are able to go over these huge difficulties and reach a good social status and, what is more, the government is indifferent to the problem, so the stigma and superstition persist. Many people think that albinos die simply disappearing or that they melt down with rain; other think that having sex with an albino might cure AIDS, so this causes violence and rapes, especially against women. In many African villages children are abandoned at the moment of birth and they are even killed during tribal rituals.
To sum up, the project, which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation, aims to encourage the awareness on the condition of albinism in order to enhance social integration and to assist these people from a health and socio-economic point of view.
The overall objective of the project is to encourage the inclusion, both from a health and socio-economic point of view, of about 50 people suffering from albinism in the Kilolo district, within one year from the beginning of the project and promoting human rights culture based on non-discrimination and respect for minorities and vulnerable groups (as albinos actually are), according to International Conventions on human rights. From a health point of view, these people would easier access medical facilities in Iringa in order to undergo dermatologic visits and eye care through the use of a shuttle. A local survey has already started to find a rental means to work as a shuttle.
Furthermore, the twenty-two dispensaries which albinos in the Kilolo District are concerned with (the dispensaries of the villages of Mwaya, Itunda, Masukanzi, Mlafu, Ikokoto, Sokoni, Mbigili, Ruaha, Nyomwa, Kitumbika, Kidabaga, Image, Lyassa, Lukani, according to our census) will be provided with proper medicines and dermatological creams: essentially eye-drops and dermatological creams, as well as a range of generic medicines kits, especially for the treatment of burns and generic infections. Besides, albino people too will be provided with the proper tools to protect against the scorching sun (sunglasses, hats, clothes, creams, etc.).
From a socio-economic point of view, there are two main goals which it is necessary to work on: the first one, mainly social, aims to sensitize the community of the problem of Albinism, and the second one, mainly economic, aims to create entrepreneurial and occupational activities for people suffering from Albinism. Recurrent meetings, aimed to sensitize towards the problem, will be organized in schools and villages in collaboration with the Albinism Foundation of East Africa (AFEA), our partner in the project.
From a strict socio-economic viewpoint, the Albinos will be involved into the project "Hands of Africa", which has been already launched by Tulime. They will be employed in handcrafted jobs with the tailor's shop in the village of Pomerini. They will be essentially involved in specific training activities both in the weaving field and in the tailoring one.

The project shall aim at the following results:

• Enable a shuttle service in the Kilolo District to allow about 50 people suffering from albinism to get the Iringa Hospital and so allow them to undergo eyes and dermatological examinations;
• Supply dispensaries in the Kilolo district with dermatological creams and other medicines suitable for the protection of people suffering from albinism;
• Supply albinos with suitable tools so as they can protect themselves from sunlight on the upland of Kilolo;
• Develop micro-enterprises managed by people suffering from albinism;
• Create awareness in the general public on the condition of albinism;
• Enhance social inclusion for albinism persons;

As a result, people suffering from albinism would be no longer seen as a threat, but a further contribution for the community support. Moreover the community would benefit from a more effective economic growth through the inclusion of albinism in new productive activities.

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