Albino Care

Albinos in Tanzania

Beautiful albino girls

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 (being from the same kinship as another person). In Tanzania, albinos represent one in every 1,500 births, a much higher rate than in any other nation. Very few understand or are educated about the medical and genetic causes of this condition. Many locally believe it is a punishment from God or bad luck.  This lack of knowledge about people with albinism means that folktales and superstition take the place of medical facts in the minds of many local people, which in turn has major effects on the social integration of people with albinism into Tanzanian society. A large percentage of albinos die by the age of thirty for reasons which could easily be prevented, i.e. persecution and cancer.

albino children wearing new sunglassesPeople with albinism are ostracized and marginalized in many villages and communities here, with many believing they are cursed and/or bring bad luck.  Fathers often suspect the mother of the albino child of infidelity with a white man or that the child is the ghost of a European colonist. Many albino babies become victims of infanticide due to these superstitious views. African rituals and spiritual ideas about albinism have led to brutal murders and attacks on innocent albino men, women and especially children under the influence of witchcraft and superstition, and desperation for wealth. This has gained public attention nationally and internationally recently as these crimes have been reported as crimes against human rights. “Infanticide, kidnapping, amputations, and decapitations, committed for purposes of supplying highly valued body parts used for amulets, which are then sold in underground witchcraft market.”

Educational handbook for albinos

Our Work

We act as advocates for the local albino population. We help connect people with albinism to resources like a dermatologist, prescription glasses, low vision assistance devices, and protective clothing. We provide transportation and cover costs to help get treatment for melanomas. We visit families in various villages to provide one-on-one guidance and education.  We hold quarterly events in eight areas of the coastal region. We work through the local school system to identify albino students and invite them and their families to our events where we educate on what albinism is and skin care. We distribute sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, and long-sleeved attire and share a meal together. Our quarterly gatherings continue to grow, and we can see improvement in the skin condition of many albino people. In addition, parents, family members, and other stakeholders in the albino community have become more knowledge about albinism and the specials needs it presents. We work with them to address the special needs of students with albinism in classrooms, and to disseminate information condemning and fighting against the persecution of people with albinism.

James and Indurance distributing supplies

Our work is important because we are changing long-held beliefs that lead to the suffering and marginalization of people with albinism. Our work is important because we assist people with albinism in living fuller, healthier, longer lives. We help fill in resource gaps, specifically in regard to skincare products because sunscreen and lip balm are scarce in Tanzania, and where available (major cities) they are prohibitively expensive. The majority of albinos, if they live through persecution, die at a very young age (30-35 years old) due to skin cancer and other skin ailments. Our work is potentially lifesaving and we thank God for the opportunity to impact lives and hopefully change ingrained patterns of thought. We currently ship 50% of sunscreen and 100% of lip balm from the United States. In country, we partner with Kilisun, a NGO that manufactures sunscreen in north Tanzania, to fulfill part of our sunscreen needs. We continue to look for resource partners as we strive to make this ministry sustainable. Please contact us for more information.