Creating safe spaces for children with albinism to learn.
Less than half of the children with albinism complete primary school. There are many reasons. Sometimes their parents don’t send them to school because they know that they will die young, meaning that education doesn’t seem worth the investment. If children do attend, their poor vision makes them unable to see the blackboard, which is usually the sole teaching tool in Tanzania. Consequently, they are often perceived to mentally deficient and even parents and teachers who care for them believe they “can’t learn.” Also, as in any culture, children can be vicious in the way they treat their peers who “stand out,” and sometimes this causes children with albinism who do attend school to give up.
But now there is a new factor, and that is the risk of being attacked on their way to or from school. This was the case with one boy whose arm was hacked off by attackers wielding machetes. Fortunately his family could hear his screams and were able to rush him to a hospital in time to save him; others are not so lucky.
So now, not only do many parents keep their children with albinism at home, but often one parent stops working to stay home and protect them, cutting their already meager existence in half. Recently we met a 10-year-old boy who had been determined to go to school, in spite of the risks. His parents supported him, and he walked the three miles alone. But on the third day, the teacher asked him to please stop coming to school, because he was “putting all the children at risk.”
HOW WE HELP
We have negotiated spaces in boarding schools, and transport the children to school. There we educate students and teachers about albinism, including ways to accommodate their low vision, so that the children will be accepted and integrated into the school environment. We also provide uniforms, school supplies, bedding, and other special needs. Soon our students are recognized as normal children with two special needs: skin protection and assistance with low vision.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Sponsor a child, covering the costs of their transportation, uniforms, shoes, and school supplies. Or, sponsor our outreach to new boarding schools and more students in rural areas. Contact us for more information or questions.