Three young Africans, including a Liberian living with albinism who are currently visiting the United States are calling on the international community to seriously take action against countries and individuals in the habit of violating their human rights by denying them those basic things needed worldwide to survive.
Addressing the International Albinism Awareness in California, the United States this week, Mr. U-Thant Nicholas Smith from Liberia noted that “Life for Person’s With Albinism across South Saharan Africa is distasteful, stressing that they are also ostracized, threatened and prosecuted, and everyday life for them seem like a nightmare.
He said discrimination and stigma is melted against people living with albinism across his home country, Liberia in all forms, noting, “We are being discriminated against based on the perception and mindset that we albinos are not humans,” Mr. Smith told the huge gathering at the occasion.
Speaking further Mr. Smith said the Liberian society has, in his own words, “Totally turned its back against we Liberians that are living with albinism; leaving us with no voice in the decision making process of our country,” Mr. Smith in his address said..
Mr. Smith who addressed the gathering in tears lamented further that many of them in Africa have been abandoned, neglected, rejected and abused, as a result, he noted, “We are living in total misery,” he asserted.
Smith who is a rights advocate also told the gathering that they have lost all hope due to the violations of their fundamental rights. As for education, the tough talking rights advocates lamented that PWA’s have been ridiculed and intimidated in schools, because of this, he stressed, “Most of our colleagues have dropped from school, while some cannot even afford to pay their fees”.
“We undergo lot of constraints and difficulties in pursuing education due to the lack of accessibilities” he added.
Touching on the health sector, Smith alleges that PWA’s has been denied proper medical care. He accused health practitioners in both the government and private run hospital and clinic of not paying much attention to their health.
“We albinos lacks the necessary pigment to stand sunlight, because of that we are faced with serious challenges, and when we go to the hospital or clinic they downplayed us, they do not give us the needed treatment, because of that we are living with lot of health problems” he said.
Smith revealed that 99% of albinos in Liberia are not employed, he said though some are qualified but they will not afford them the opportunity because of their condition.
Smith however said, due to the lack of interest by the government and private employer’s in providing jobs for qualified albinos, most of his friends have no choice but to do hard labour jobs, such as: pushing wheelbarrow, loading cars, selling round town market, farming, cracking rocks,etc, under the blazing sun which poses serious damage to their skin. He added that it has contributed to many of them being affected with sun cancer and vision lost, making them to lost their lives at a early age.
In his concluding statement, Smith in a rather stronger tone said PWA’s like any other person must be given the chance to live a dignified life, free from marginalization. He urged everyone to join hands in making the world a better place for all.
“We too have the right to good health care, we too have the right to quality education, we too have the right to job employment and better standard of living” he argued, and then appealed for support in order to make their work in championing the cause of PWA’s more effective and efficient.
Also speaking at the gathering, Bibiana, a teen age living with albinism from Tanzania who was a victim from ritual attacks narrated that she lost her parents at a early age leaving her to live with some relative.
She said on that faithful day during the late evening hours while they was at sleep, some unknown men break into the house and chop up one of her leg and fingers and went away with it. She said at that present state she was screaming in a pool of blood until she was later rescued and rushed to the hospital. She told the gathering after she came to herself it was then she remember that her dad once told her about albinos body been used for ritual in order to make others rich, but sadly he was not around to protect her from those evil men.
She said she is in the U.S with the help of some organization and they was able to replaced her leg.
Accompany by her little sister Tindi, who is also with albinism explained that horrible incident said as those men were harassing her sister, she which she could go to her rescue but couldn’t because she was also fear for her life. They both called for the attacks and killings of PWA’S. in their motherland to stop immediately, noting that everyone should be giving the chance to live happily without fear.
They called on the world to join hands around albinos in Africa in putting an end to their suffering.
The attacks and killings of albinos in East Africa is on the increased, witch doctors believed that the body parts of albinos makes charms stronger for riches.
For his part Tremayne Mushayahama, a young Zimbabwean who came to the U.S since 2009 said he was grown up when he left Zimbabwe. He admitted experiencing similar problems which was raised by his colleague from Liberia, describing it as people being wicked.
He also urged his friends with albinism across the world to continue to fight for their rights, noting that very soon it will be over.
The occasion was grace by American with albinism and other family members and church friends of the organizer.
The program was organized by Dr. Rebecca Kammer, an American low vision specialist who is working with albinism organizations across Africa, in providing vision care was instrumental in getting he, U-Thant Nicholas Smith to the U.S for advance medical care on his vision which is improving gradually.
The International Albinism Awareness Day was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly for increased international attention, noting that, in many parts of the world, awareness of the human rights situation of Persons with Albinism remains limited. Further, it recognizes the importance of increasing awareness and understanding Albinism in order to fight against global discrimination and stigma against PWA’S.