The first International Albinism Awareness Day was observed today across the world as different groups came together to discuss issues affecting people living with albinism.
In Botswana the inaugural event was held in Serowe where issues of cancer prevention and skin care were discussed.
While incidents of ritual murder on albino people have been reported in some African countries, much closer to home the burning concern has largely been about the health and social misconception on albinism.
Chairperson of Botswana Albinism Society, Fraizah Gaonakala, says the awareness day has long been overdue as society needs to be taught about albinism in order to dispel some of the long held myths. “There is still a lot of stigmatization against albino people but society needs to appreciate that we too are human and have as equal rights as everyone else,”
Gaonakala says the Botswana Albinism Society was formed to spread such awareness and instill a sense of confidence and pride among albino people. “A lot of albino people find it difficult to accept themselves. We still have some people hiding their albino children from society either out of shame or fear that they’d be subjected to stigmatization,” he said.
Last week The Voice Newspaper donated P25 000.00 to the society and Gaonakala welcomed the gesture as he said it would go a long way in complementing the society’s mandate. “Albinism has medical consequences such as skin cancer and low vision and there are a lot of underprivileged albino people who cannot afford appropriate creams for sun protection, clothing and access to good and accurate surgical care. The donation will bring relief on such matters and we wish to encourage other organizations to help in whatever way they can to help the less fortunate,” he said.
The International Albinism Awareness Day was adopted by the United Nations general Assembly last year in a bid to firmly fix albinism advocacy at a global level.
Adoption of the resolution was the latest result of the vigorous efforts of the organization, Under the Same Sun (UTSS).