Thursday, February 16, 2012

Living with Albinism on Ukerewe.

Hello again,

We would like to introduce you to Mr. Ramadhani, who is the Chairman of the Ukerewe Albino Society.

When John, Chris and Barry were on the island last month, they met Mr. Ramadhani, who is a car mechanic by trade, but cannot work because he has no tools - and no money to buy any.  Mr. Ramadhani said to our representatives "We are trying to stand on our own feet.  We want to be treated as normal humans and bring a sense of belonging, harmony, freedom and security to the Albino comminity, who are finding life so difficult with their complex medical problems, poor health care and prejudice from some of the local community".

Meet Neema and her family.  Neema is also a member of the Society.  She is 30 and makes a modest living by making pots from clay, at the family home.  She and her four albino brothers Ayubu, Ezekiel, Zachariah, Jeremiah all live with their grandmother, who is not an albino.  Neema is good at pottery.  She crushes the clay blocks, sieves it, mixes it with water and shapes it all by hand - sitting on the floor.   She said "When I have made four or five, I dry them in the sun.  Then I collect enough firewood and cure them in an open fire.  I can make clay bowls - probably five or six per day.  I could sell more if I could make more, but I cannot make more because it is a slow process and I have to do everything by hand".

Ayubu is the oldest brother and wants to be a musician, but cannot afford any instruments.  Ezekiel was born with bilateral club feet.  His father took him to the local hospital where the doctor told him to go to the nearest teaching hospital, which he did.  They wanted a large amount of money to surgically correct his feet, which he could not afford.  He hobbles around on club feet with just worn slippers to protect them.  Zachariah runs a small shop.  Jeremiah has been offered a place to study law, but cannot afford the fees.

Though trapped in a cycle of poverty, this family is doing their very best under difficult circumstances, to scrape a living from very little.

The team will do their best to help this family and others like them during our next visit in July.

Until the next time,

Best Wishes,
Diane and Derek

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