As I mentioned in last week's blog post, one of Fred's new projects is to work in local villages to advocate for equal treatment for people with albinism (PWA). As I mentioned a few months ago when our family went to serve at a camp for kids with albinism, the life of PWA in Tanzania is very hard. Along with the physical ramifications of albinism--sensitivity to the sun, susceptibility to skin cancer, eye problems--there are many psychological and emotional attacks as well. Albinism is not well understood here, so families often reject children who are born with albinism or neighbors threaten them with violence. They are mistreated in their communities and live in fear of the black market for the body parts of the "ghosts."
Fred is starting the "Watu Kama Sisi" or "People Like Us" program in Mwanza, funded by Mennonite Central Committee, to reduce violence against PWA. One of his first items of business was to meet with the local chapter leadership for the Tanzania Albinism Society (TAS). After one meeting, he came away feeling that he had met kindred spirits. The leaders of TAS have suffered much in their lives, including being taken advantage of by potential donors who use their photos to raise money, but never come back to help the community. In spite of all this, they shared openly with Fred and helped him make connections to begin his work in areas most affected by violence and misunderstanding toward PWA.
June 13th is International Albinism Day, and Tanzania is having a huge event this year featuring the extremely popular new president, John Magufuli. The event is in Dar es Salaam, on the exact opposite side of the country from us. The leaders of the Mwanza chapter of Tanzania Albinism Society would love to go represent their community and join hands with their brothers and sisters from around the country. Fred gets to go with his team because they have a grant funding their travel, but they feel a bit like frauds--newcomers flying across the country to learn and network--while their new friends are trying to raise funds to take the 20-hour bus ride to Dar. It's really a risk to their personal health and safety, but they feel it is so important. They are reaching out to local friends to help them collect $800 for their transport, food and accommodations for five days. Would you consider helping them as well?
I know we just asked you all for help to buy our car, but we have to ask you yet again for help. It's only two and half weeks until they need to leave for the event, so please don't wait if you feel moved to give. (By the way, airfare would be about $150 per person instead of $50 for bus fare, so if we can help them reach $1,100 the group can fly, which would be much more comfortable and safe for them.)
The best and fastest way to get money to these deserving friends is through our Paypal account. Just click HERE. Everything that we raise will supplement the local fundraising and help them advocate even more for their community.