Tanzanian Woman With Albinism Gets New Arms


"The arms will me do things I never thought I could do again," she said. "I'm going to be independent!"

CLICK HERE to see photos of Staford through her journey.

Learning How to Use Her New Arms

To help her become independent again, Staford visited Rashaan Holley, an occupational therapist at the National Rehabilitation Hospital and another angel on Team Mariamu.

Staford had only a few days to master what most people learn over the course of months. Just learning how to put the prosthetics on seemed virtually impossible. At first she struggled, but eventually was able to put them on without assistance.

Her sessions went beyond the mechanics of her artificial limbs, testing the limits of her stamina and the depths of her determination. She had to relearn how to do everything -- even the most simple, everyday tasks including picking up objects, using utensils, opening doors, getting dressed, and above all, learning again how to feed herself.

The process was grueling, but Staford never complained, celebrating every small accomplishment.

"I'm very happy and so grateful for everything," she told ABC News' Juju Chang. "The arms don't hurt, but even if I feel pain I will through it because I know that these arms can help me."

Staford Finds a Surrogate American Family

During her ten day trip, Staford and her nurse, Joyce Kigembe, and Ntetema, were welcomed into the home of Kitty DeWitt, a member of NOAH, a national albinism organization, who raised two now-adult children with albinism. The group quickly became a family, spending evenings singing and dancing. Kigembe said Staford has done more for them, than they for her.

"I'm not a forgiving person. I carry a grudge, but after all Mariamu went through in life and she still forgives, it's really touched my heart and made me see life differently," said Kigembe.

Between appointments, Staford partied with the local albinism community; she tried new foods with mixed results -- French Fries and hot chocolate were a thumbs up, but donuts and cheesecake were less appealing.

"She has this sense of humor that's extraordinary given the trauma that she's endured," DeWitt said of Staford, whom she calls her "binti," or daughter.

Spreading Awareness on Capitol Hill

While in the U.S., Staford became a powerful advocate spreading awareness at the highest level -- Capitol Hill. Along with Ntetema and NOAH members, Staford met with Congressman Gerald Connolly, D-Va., to lobby the U.S. government to take action to prevent the albino killings in East Africa.

Less than three months later, Staford's cause made it to the floor of Congress. The House passed a resolution condemning the attacks and called for swift action to end the murders. Only one member voted against the measure.

With seven suitcases bulging with clothes, books and toys -- presents from her new American friends to help her regain some of what she's lost -- Staford's miraculous adventure came to end and she returned to Tanzania a new woman.

With her new arms, Staford is able to write and do housework. She has enrolled in school to become a professional seamstress. Her entire demeanor has changed.

"Mariamu has not come back with new arms. She has come back with a new spirit, with new zeal. She is a completely new person!" said Anna Nyamubi, a Tanzanian District Commissioner who took Staford into her home after she was evicted from her government-owned home. "Mariamu is ready to face the world!"

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