Almost all Tanzanians are subsistence farmers. Because of the threat of skin cancer, there is no doubt that people with albinism should find indoor work, out of the sun that beats down on those who do subsistence farming. It's a hazardous occupation for people with albinism because of the threat of skin cancer it requires long hours spent in the equatorial sun. As an alternative, some try to open small shops in the village selling food, stationery, clothing or general supplies. But where superstitions abound, most people won’t buy from them because they worry that their goods are somehow contaminated or contagious. Even employers are reluctant to hire them. Either they have these superstitions themselves, or they know that their customers do, and they can’t afford to take the risk that their business won’t survive.
The better answer is for people with albinism to be able to work indoors in places where they will be hired or able to be self-employed. Some options available in Tanzania are teaching, tour guiding, office work, healthcare and engineering. But all these require at least a secondary education, and as we said, less than half of the children with albinism complete the 7th grade.
HOW WE HELP
Our first effort at vocational training began in 2014, when an American friend volunteered to come teach women with albinism how to sew. We were also able to provide workshop space, sewing machines, and financial support for startup. The women learned quickly, with designs adapted for low vision, and by the end of the first week they were making placemats and table runners. All were made with traditional Tanzanian material (called vitenge) that was purchased locally. They sold mainly to friends who visited, as well as a local museum.
The Albino Peacemakers Sewing Group now makes more than twenty different items, which they sell locally to tour companies and at Fairs, restaurants and lodges, as well as internationally. They are completely self-sustaining, and they also contribute 10% of all sales to Albino Peacemakers’ Education Program.
We have also had friends come forward with a desire to sponsor vocational training or higher education for a person with albinism. Among the graduates are an accountant, a teacher, and an engineer.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Sponsor a person with albinism to get on their feet economically. This can be as a sewing trainee, a small business start-up, a local vocational training program, or higher education. Contact us for more information or questions.