By TARIRO MUSHORE
Albinism is an inherited condition present at birth, characterized by a reduced or lack of pigment that normally gives color to the skin, hair and eyes. Albinism, in itself is not a sickness neither is it contagious.
Alive Albinism Initiative is one of the organizations which is working towards emancipation and empowerment of people with albinism. The visionary and founder of this organization is Tapiwa Gwenlisa Mushonga and her deputy is Gamuchirai Uzande.
In an interview with the Perch media Gamuchirai revealed that the organization has a membership of more than 800 in all the provinces of Zimbabwe The organization has dealt with issues of stigma and discrimination against people with albinism as its mandate is to see people with albinism rise and compete in this race of life.
People with albinism are stigmatized and seen as outcast, painfully families are ashamed of the condition and consequently the society cannot embrace them, this among problems faced by people with albinism, is the most critical and painful.
Hence the aim of Alive Albinism Initiative is to foster a change in attitude, a change in the way people perceive albinism focusing on building positive relationships and not emphasizing attributes.
“As an organization, we have come up with programmes aimed at sensitizing the community about what albinism really is that it’s nothing more than simply a lack of melanin, the gene which pigments the skin”, said Gamuchirai the deputy director of the organization.
People with albinism face discrimination at workplaces, domestic violence especially to mothers of children with albinism, giving birth to a person with albinism is viewed as a disgrace in some families who do not understand that albinism is not a curse neither is it a sickness.
They also face a challenge of being killed for rituals due to the existence of myths and superstitious beliefs that people with albinism possess charm that can provider good fortune and wealth, hence this organization is playing a big role in sensitizing the community disregarding the myths.
“We want to empower people with albinism to become lighthouses and ambassadors against intolerance”, said Gamuchirai.
“As Alive Albinism Initiative we have engaged in awareness campaigns, interacting clubs, confidence building programs and continuous learning and skills development programs”, she added. They have also engaged relevant authorities to promote and avail equal opportunities for people with albinism.
Albinism is a rare group of genetic disorders that cause the skin, hair, or eyes to have little or no color. Albinism is also associated with vision problems.
According to the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation, about 1 in 18,000 to 20,000 people in the United States have a form of albinism