NABACU (“THEY ARE OURS”) program focuses on people with albinism disability.
Thousands of people living with albinism lives are endangered in Africa and particularly in sub Saharan African countries such as Nigeria, Sudan Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and southern African countries like Malawi etc.
Witchcrafts and sorcery have developed much in these counties and endanger lives of these people.
Children and women are the most at high risk because of their physical status and stereotypes that wicked people have towards them.
People living with albinism are confronted with persecution which is based on the belief that certain body parts of albinistic people can transmit magical powers. Such superstition is present especially in some parts of the African Great Lakes region, it has been promulgated and exploited by witch doctors and others who use such body parts as ingredients in rituals, concoctions and potions with the claim that their magic will bring prosperity to the user.
As a result, people with albinism have been persecuted, killed and dismembered, and their graves dug up and desecrated. At the same time, people with albinism have also been ostracized and even killed for exactly the opposite reason, because they are presumed to be cursed and bring bad luck. As above mentioned, the persecutions of people with albinism take place mostly in communities of Sub-Sahara Africa, especially among East African.
Albinism is a genetically inherited condition which is very rare and, worldwide, affects approximately one in twenty thousand people although rare in the western world; albinism is quite common in sub-Saharan Africa, likely as a result of consanguinity. Both parents, who may or may not be albinos themselves, must carry the gene if it is to be passed on to the child. Albinism occurs in both males and females and is not specific to any race or ethnic group. Although very few understand or are educated about the medical and genetic causes of this condition, many believe it is a punishment from God or bad luck, and that their "disease" could be contagious, which is often the view of even members of the medical and professional community. These misconceptions, coupled with the lack of education, are some of the key reasons that albinism is so heavily persecuted. This lack of knowledge about people with albinism means that folktales and superstition in the name of witchcraft take the place of medical and scientific facts in the minds of many native Africans, with and without albinism, which in turn has major effects on the social integration of albinistic people into African society. Ninety-eight percent of albinos die by the age of forty for reasons which could easily be prevented.
The prevalence of albinism varies across the world. According to the World Health Organization, estimates vary from 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 15,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
CASE OF RWANDA
The above mentioned types of persecutions and killings have not left behind children and women living with albinism in Rwanda. It is reported that the eastern part of Rwanda bordering with Tanzania and Burundi has registered more killings of people living with albinism.
Children with albinism rights are not respect in terms of fully, bringing them, caring for them as other children, education. People prefer hiding them far away, considering them as curses. Those who attempt to go to school are discriminated, not liked by others feared. In these conditions they can’t afford finish their studies.
At school or at the workplace, the colleagues mistake them for white. When parents come to the school and see them, they start to tell their children all sorts of negative things about people with Albinism. So they begin to resent school or the workplace.
Women are the most at risk in the same situation. However, can you imagine they will never get married due to stereotypes and beliefs of people. They only live in despair. For those few who got jobs, at the work place they don’t feel comfortable as the colleagues are away from them or don’t want to talk to them.
For the well-being of people with albinism disability and their freedom in their communities, Hand in Hand for development contributes in protection of the rights of people living with albinism disability, improvement of their living conditions, integrate them in the society and build their capacity through offering job and education opportunities to young and adult people living with albinism. HIHD also contributes in creating free and safe place for people living with albinism to live.
NABACU seeks to address the following issues affecting people living with albinism:
Health education on how to prevent skin cancer, Protective clothing, Optician services, Assistance in participating in mainstream primary and secondary education, Vocational training to maximize the chance of indoor work out of the sun.
NABACU covers the following activities:
Awareness campaigns on albinism, Training of activists on human rights and how to defend and protect people living with albinism, Provide health insurance people with albinism, Provide school supplies, uniforms and fees for children with albinism in primary and secondary schools, Provide financial support to run small businesses, Provide optician services, skin lotions and protective clothing.
Empowerment of families of People with Albinism disability
The way of living for these people in their communities, relationship with their neighbors, the manner the community sees and treat them affect their health and living conditions; people living with albinism disability are often mentally unstable due to isolation, harassment, stigma, violence, discrimination, fear their face in their surroundings; this condition negatively impacts their living conditions and leave them in a deep poverty where they lose hope for a better future, self-esteem and self-reliance.
Most of PWA in Rwanda are located in rural areas where agriculture and livestock breeding are the main incomes generating activities; since most of the communities’ members don’t accept to employ PWA due to lack of information about their disability, misunderstanding about their ability, discrimination and stigmatization, this causes their families to become economically poor and their living conditions becomes toughest. To address this issue and improve their living conditions so that they become valuable and active in the community, at HIHD we empower socially and economically the families of people with albinism disability through distribution livestock and financial support to run small income generating activities.