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Embassy News

Zimbabwe-United States of America Alumni Association joins the Zimbabwe Albino Association to promote tolerance

November 16, 2010
A Member of Parliament chats to a ZIMAS member. (Photo: PAS, Harare)

A Member of Parliament chats to a ZIMAS member.

Members of ZUSAA on 16 November joined the Zimbabwe Albino Association (ZIMAS) to commemorate  the International Day of People Living with Albinism that was held at the Art Gallery in Harare Zimbabwe. The day was very emotional as the Association opened the eyes of the participants regarding to the challenges that their community faces and constantly chanted their slogan “white yet black” to try and hammer their message home. According to Professor John Makumbe, the 14 000 members of the association and others living with albinism have continued to greatly suffer in the communities that they live in. “Parents of albino children may be accused of having invoked the wrath of God, or of their ancestors. In traditional belief, an albino child was seen as a bad omen, or the result of witchcraft, and was often killed soon after birth. These days the consequences are less drastic, but they can be bad enough: The mother may be accused of infidelity, and the father may even abandon his family because of the shame.

Many families keep their children well hidden at home instead of sending them to school because of the stigma attached to them. Those who do go to school, however, face continuing problem. Class mates may point and laugh at them, and since this problem has never really been perceived and dealt with, adults frequently do the same. Needless to say, this causes extremely low self esteem amongst the too-white children. Furthermore, because albinos normally suffer from poor eyesight, they may have a problem reading and therefore learning. In a country like Zimbabwe, many families are too poor to afford the eyeglasses these children need and the association is trying to assist the members access these essential products.

The Association has made great strides in championing the cause of its members. It has managed for Affirmative Action for Albino people to get into tertiary institutions, get special books, lotions and are still pushing to be officially recognized as people with disabilities who should be allowed for instance to import cars without paying duties as is provided for by the law ton people with disabilities. “We want the government to declare albinism a disability” said Makumbe. They want to improve the health of albinos and most importantly, ZIMAS want to educate people. It seems a monumental task, but it has got to begin somewhere.

Speaking at the same function Minister Sekai Holland who is a ZUSAA member invited the association to come and engage the Organ on National Healing which she is part of so that they can explore ways of assisting people with albinism. The association also appealed to members who have used umbrellas, clothes, hats, office equipment, sun screen lotions and other essential things to donate them so that they can also donate to their members especially those in the rural areas who continue to be marginalized. In the same vein ZUSAA would like to appeal to its members who can support ZIMAS’ cause to come forward with any form of assistance that could be useful to the association and its members.