NOTE: While we are no longer directly connected to this ministry, it holds a special place in our hearts and many of you have partnered with us on this need in the past. We continue to keep informed on developments in this area and will share with you periodically.
There are more than 200,000 people with albinism in Tanzania. They face a unique set of obstacles because of physical dangers and cultural beliefs.
Imagine a life lived in constant fear. Imagine a life without family, without love, without hope. Imagine knowing your life will be cut short by a preventable danger. Imagine a life dictated by your physical appearance.
Because of the harsh African sun, Tanzanians with albinism are extremely susceptible to severe sun burns. Most Tanzanians with albinism will not live past the age of 30 because of a variety of risks, but most often due to skin cancer. For many with albinism, preventative measures such as hats, sun glasses and sunscreen are often too expensive to buy.
Many with albinism also have vision impairments ranging from poor eyesight to blindness. This can create problems with safety as well as limited options for education and employment. Glasses to improve eyesight and sunglasses to protect their eyes are often too expensive. Schools for the visually impaired have become a safe haven for many with albinism. Many children with albinism are abandoned by their family’s at these government-run schools. But the schools are overcrowded and poorly equipped to handle the health and educational needs of these children.
Perhaps the most deadly danger facing Tanzanians with albinism is the belief that their body parts bring luck and prosperity. Witchcraft persists in Tanzania and witch doctors teach that people with albinism are not human and have no souls. People with albinism are hunted in the middle of the night, their limbs cut off and sold for exorbitant amounts of money to witch doctors. Everyone from infants to adults live in constant fear that they will be targeted.
We are partnering with Tanzanians to help the albino population on several levels.
We make trips to several of the government run schools to distribute sunscreen, hats and sunglasses. We help educate the children about the importance of protecting their skin and staying out of the sun. We’ve also sent medicines and doctors to help treat severe sunburns on some of the children.
We have worked with the government schools to assess equipment needed to improve the education of the children with albinism. To date, we have bought cases of Braille paper, frames used for creating Braille text and magnifying sheets that enlarge text on a page. Currently our friend and musician Jason Poe is donating all proceeds from his new album to buying more Braille equipment.
Because the government schools are underfunded and overcrowded, living conditions are less than ideal. We’ve built tables because the children were eating on the ground. We’ve installed a water filter to provide clean drinking water for one of the schools. We’ve used donated funds to build shower and bathroom facilities. We’ve bought sheets, clothes and shoes for many of the children.
Spiritual and Emotional Needs
Last year, our daughter Sarah was able to spend several months providing trauma counseling to a group of children with albinism. Our daughter is a child therapist and this was the first documented counseling with this unique group of children. It was a powerful time of learning and healing. We’ve also partnered local churches with government schools where children with albinism live. These churches are able to visit the schools and provide spiritual instruction to the students. We’ve also been able to purchase a group of MP3 players loaded with Swahili Bibles so the children can listen to the Word.
A group called Under the Same Sun is working on a national level in Tanzania to promote awareness of the dangers facing people with albinism. They are lobbying for legal protection and prosecution for crimes against people with albinism. They are also working to teach Tanzanians the truth about albinism. We communicate with Under the Same Sun, using their expertise and influence to help in our work.
You can partner with us to help Tanzanians with albinism.
Our ministry in this area continues to grow and evolve as we learn more about this unique group of people and their needs. We are looking for people and groups to partner with us on specific projects. Please email us to learn about specific giving opportunities and projects.
Donations can be made to the Tanzania Albino Ministry and are tax deductible.
Checks can be made out to AGWM (Assemblies of God World Missions). Please include our account number (Account #221146) and the Tanzania Albino Ministry project number (Project #15006) in the memo line.
Mail checks to:
1445 Boonville Ave.
Springfield, MO 65802