We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

International Albinism Awareness Day

June 13th is International Albinism Awareness Day! And we are going to celebrate with HATS!

If you have been reading our blog, you are no doubt already aware of albinism and the problems that people with albinism are facing in Tanzania at the moment. But so many are not aware. Our love and concern for people with albinism, particularly those in the Mwanza region makes it impossible for us to let this day to pass by unnoticed or unmarked!

Limi (30), a woman with albinism and mother of four from Katavi, is the most recent victim of attack in Tanzania. She survived the attack just over 2 weeks ago, but her right hand was cut off and taken for witchcraft potions. A few months earlier, one-year old Yohanna Bahati was killed when attackers hacked off both of his arms and legs. His mother, Ester, was seriously injured and left unconscious as she tried to save her son.

But it is not only the mutilations and murder. The sun also kills. It has been reported only 2% of people with albinism live until they are 40 because of skin cancer. They need to be wearing protective sun hats and sunscreen and have access to education and treatment in cancer clinics.

We are all different. Different heights, sizes, shapes, colours, and abilities, both physical and intellectual...  But yet we are all created and loved by God. We all in some way bear His image. We are all uniquely different and yet equally special.

June 13th has been officially set aside by the UN as a day to celebrate people with albinism. Recognize them, remember them, honour them and value them. We have the opportunity to stand in support of them and be a voice that sends out a message of love over the noise of murder and discrimination.

We are going to make and wear fun hats. People with albinism should be wearing hats to protect themselves from the sun. Unfortunately, many don't have hats and even then, those that do, don't like to wear them as it makes them feel even more "different." Celebrating their lives (with hats!) on this day is just a very simple way of standing with them in support... their lives matter!

Now I know that a group of people wearing crazy hats will not solve the problems of albinism. I wish it were that simple. But I encourage you to mark this day. Pray for these people. Share their story. Support them in ways that you can.

It is strange feeling so far away here in the UK. I feel like I read the news and stories as one far away and sadly detached. But yet I know and think of Penina, Rose, Monika, Saidaiti, Laurensia and other mamas in Tanzania who bear the pain and fear involved in albinism. I think of the children at Lake View School. I think of the families of those murdered, of those struggling in the aftermath of attack. And I pray for change.

I don't know how or when things will change. It is complicated and there is no easy answer. Here in the UK it is easy to think everyone can help... send a donation, send a hat, send suncream, or sign a petition to the government. But it really isn't that simple. Beliefs run deep in hearts; hearts are hard to change. But we pray for change and we help where we can.

I know we have friends all over the place who share our love and concern for people with albinism, so celebrate their life and pray for them with us! Put on your hats!

As well as planning a Crazy Hat Day and special assembly at Aldermaston Primary School, Amisadai and Louisa are hoping to collect some crazy hat photos on their blog (coming soon!) so please do share (by email or on our albinism day Facebook page) a photo of your crazy hat or silly sunglasses! Spread the word!

Here is a short slideshow of some of what we see and do in Tanzania...

Colour of Skin: Albinism from Rachel Monger on Vimeo.

On another note, my apologies for the lack of communication recently on the blog. I'm afraid I rather lost the routine, but hope to pull things together again soon! We are still in the UK, staying with Tim's parents and would appreciate your continued prayers for Tim's Dad. The past few weeks have been the hardest and lowest for him and is particularly struggling with very low blood counts and radio burns to his left eye. Thanks!

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