Albinos decry stigma

Albinos have complained of being discriminated in society. Speaking at a workshop for people living with disabilities in Rwamagana District, yesterday, Jean Damascene Hafashimana, 27, an albino, said it is very difficult for them to get jobs even though they had the necessary skills.

Albinos have complained of being discriminated in society.

Speaking at a workshop for people living with disabilities in Rwamagana District, yesterday, Jean Damascene Hafashimana, 27, an albino, said it is very difficult for them to get jobs even though they had the necessary skills.

Hafashimana, a resident of Gashaki Sector in Musanze District, Northern Province, is a member of an association made up of 80 albinos.

“I am a constructor who went to school just like my counterparts, who don’t have the skin impairment.

‘‘But when it comes to getting a job, I am always the last choice. This has kept me in perpetual poverty,” he said.

Hafashimana said that it is not easy for albinos to compete for jobs with others, adding that employers usually doubt their abilities.

“Life is complicated by the way people treat us. There is a lot of discrimination against people with albinism…Look around, how many albinos are employed? Just a few,” Hafashimana said.

He further lamented that some people believe several myths about albinos which should be discarded.

“Some people think that albinism is a curse from the gods and that anyone who touches us will be cursed,” he said.

The albinos, however, commended the government for the support and protection citing threats from witch-doctors who hunt and kill albinos in other countries.

“Our country has been able to protect us…this is a blessing because in other countries many albinos have been killed.

‘‘It is sad that some people believe our body parts and organs are a source of wealth. ‘‘It is wrongly believed that if one goes to a witch doctor with albino body parts, such as hair, nails... they will become rich and prosperous. So, we need more protection.”

Olivier Ndagijimana, the coordinator of the disabled in Kigali, said that the handicapped in general needed protection in a number of ways.

“We have witnessed high levels of vulnerability of the disabled…the lame, deaf, the visually impaired, etc are usually victims of rape and all sorts of abuses.

‘‘Unfortunately, this goes on silently as victims are ignorant or unable to raise alarm,” he said.

“The disabled are normally easy to manipulate…some can’t talk, hear, etc. So, their ability to communicate must be enhanced through education.”

He called on the government and well wishers to offer sufficient vision-enhancing technology, such as glasses, magnifiers and special computer equipment to facilitate education of children with albinism.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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