GNRC–Tanzania in partnership with CEFA Onlus Tanzania and Under The Same Sun (UTSS), conducted five participatory workshops from 9th – 13th April 2018 to raise awareness on People living with Albinism (PWA). The workshop, which took place in Bariadi District, Simiyu region, Tanzania, focused on addressing albinophobia through ethics education and instilling of moral values in the audience. A total of one hundred and fifty eight (158) participants including health workers, community development officers, social welfare officers, legal and justice officials, teachers, youth, children and the local government, benefited from the workshops.
The workshops encouraged community members to appreciate diversity and promote peaceful co-existence. Other activities conducted during the workshops included: drama, music, case studies and experience sharing. It was noted that people living with albinism in Tanzania have been persecuted, killed and dismembered, all because of an African belief that certain body parts of people living with albinism can transmit magical powers. People with albinism have also been ostracized and even killed because of the wrong presumption that they are cursed and may bring about bad luck.
GNRC–Tanzania stressed that religious leaders, faith based organizations and civil society organizations have a role in preventing such violence. They urged the community to educate the youth and children against such evil pursuits. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants were urged to uphold the rights of every human being irrespective of their differences. They were also reminded of their obligation to respect the rights of other people in addition to the Tanzanian legal consequences of infringing on other people’s rights. GNRC–Tanzania, UTSS and CEFA aim to end albinophobia by engaging the community on constructive dialogue to end the discrimination.
Simiyu was the second region where such sensitization workshops were conducted, preceded by Mwanza region in March 2018. The campaign will proceed to other regions with and including Geita, Shinyanga, and Kigoma of the lake zone. The targeted areas were selectively chosen because of the existing myths and superstitions intertwined with witchcraft and ignorance in the regions.
Other initiatives are underway to tackle root causes of albinophobia including ignorance, discrimination and impunity. This includes a draft of a national policy and practical guidelines that would work to protect and support people with albinism. The project aims to increase support and protection for victims and potential victims from attacks through a hotline.