Aug. 26, 2010 -- In Tanzania, life with albinism is a near death sentence. Fifty-seven people with albinism have been murdered since 2007 -- their limbs hacked off and sold on the black market. Many locals believe there are magical properties in the blood, bones and skin of people with albinism.
Aside from gruesome attacks, Tanzanian albinos -- unprotected for a lifetime under the scorching African sun -- often die of painful skin cancer in their thirties.
The threat to albinos is spreading throughout the continent. Organizations are working in Tanzania to help protect children and adults with albinism.
How to Help
Under the Same Sun (UTSS): A Canadian charity founded in 2008, UTSS exists to provide life saving support to persons with albinism in Tanzania by focusing on the education and eradication of prejudice and life-threatening discrimination that has plagued albinos. They help schools that provide refuge for children living with albinism by providing student scholarships and supplies of books, paper, sunscreen and hats. UTSS is also working with Mariamu Staford and other individuals in crisis. 100 percent of donations will go directly and exclusively to these crucial programs.
Asante-Mariamu: A non-profit organization, based in Virginia, dedicated to ending the crisis in East Africa and to providing direct relief to improve the lives of people with albinism in that region. Named after Mariamu Staford, the Tanzanian woman with albinism who survived an attack and the loss of her arms in 2008, Asante Mariamu has launched a national campaign of "SunDrives" to raise funds for life-saving sun protection clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen that will benefit people with albinism in East Africa. The organization also continues to support Mariamu in her journey for independence, raise funds and donations for an ongoing dermatology clinic for people with albinism in Malawi. Since its inception in January 2010, Asante Mariamu staff has worked closely with members of Congress, the International Red Cross, and to bring attention to this issue and engage others in working towards ending the crisis. For more information, please go to www.asante-mariamu.org.
National Organization for Albinism & Hypopigmentation (NOAH): In America, people with albinism aren't facing the shocking attacks of those in Africa but they must deal with uncorrectable low vision and the stigma of looking different in a society that puts a high value on appearance. The NOAH, a US-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing resources and support for people with albinism and their families, is the pre-eminent resource in promoting accurate information about this rare, and often misunderstood, condition. Through summer family camps, regional and national conferences, and online resources, NOAH touches hundreds of families who might otherwise never encounter people who share the albinism experience. Your donation can help NOAH break the barriers of isolation with connections to the albinism community and banish the darkness of ignorance with education. To learn more or to support NOAH, please go to www.albinism.org.