The challenges that children and People living with Albinism (PWA) face are saddening. Their fundamental rights are violated and they are marginalized and persecuted because of their physical differences and their lives are at risk due to superstitious beliefs and practices within societies. There is evidence showing that social processes and practices severely affect children with albinism and as such they face significant ‘barriers to being’, most serious being their right to life and protection and the right to freedom from discrimination. Mothers of children with albinism are often blamed for their child’s condition and accused of infidelity with white people, carriers or spirits. Thus many children with albinism are raised without the support of both parents, posing financial difficulties and inability to afford health care or education for the child. Myths and superstitions, fuelled by a lack of understanding surrounding albinism and the visible difference in the appearance of PWA can lead to stigmatization, rejection, a lack of acceptance, perceptions of difference and limited social integration.
In its efforts to protect children and people living with albinism (PWA) and their rights, GNRC–Tanzania in partnership with CEFA Onlus Tanzania and Under The Same Sun (UTSS), implemented a project in March 2018 dubbed, ‘Haki Yetu Project’, with the need to develop a holistic concept of tackling rights for children and young people with albinism which sees human rights as indivisible. The project has since been successful, in bringing awareness and advocating for the rights of “People With Albinism (PWA)”.
GNRC–Tanzania continues to implement the project in various regions in Tanzania. On the 1st – 27th October 2018, GNRC–Tanzania conducted five participatory workshops from Kigoma region to raise awareness within the community on People living with Albinism (PWA). The workshop took place in Kigoma Ujiji District and Kasulu District, Tanzania, and focused on addressing albino-phobia by educating on moral values specifically ethics education and enhance advocacy for the rights of People living with Albinism (PWA). A total of one hundred and sixty one (161) participants including religious leaders from Islam and Christian communities, government officials, legal and justice officials, teachers, education officers, community development officers, health workers and the community at large benefited from the workshops.
During the workshop, religious leaders, faith inspired organizations and civil society organizations were encouraged and reminded of their role in preventing discrimination and violence against People living with Albinism. Facilitators referred to the teachings of the world’s religions and spiritual traditions that advocate for valuing life and recognizing human beings as fundamentally equal. The workshops also encouraged community members to appreciate diversity and promote peaceful co-existence.
Participants were informed that the state has a duty to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights contained in the Bill of Rights, in terms of the right to life; the protection of a person’s life against possible attack or any danger. The workshops challenged legal and justice officers about the need for effective action to combat and eliminate attacks against persons with albinism and to adopt specific measures to protect and preserve the rights to life and security of persons with albinism, as well as their right not to be subjected to torture and ill-treatment.
Teachers and education officers were advised to educate the youth and children on practicing tolerance and inclusion, so as to encourage respect for one another and enhance a peaceful coexistence. At the end of the workshop, participants were urged to uphold the rights of every human being irrespective of their differences. They were reminded of their obligation to respect the rights of other people, thus helping to save lives, reduce suffering and realize their shared vision of a peaceful, inclusive and just societies in which diversity is valued and the rights of all individuals are protected.