At Jelly’s Primary School in Tanzania’s Mwanza region, the non-governmental organization Under The Same Sun offers a full guarantee for 36 children, allowing them to study in a normal mixed school instead of government centers. Usually, when the group sponsors a student, it means his or her family has rejected him or her definitely. (Federico Roscioli)
From 2007 to 2010, Tanzania saw record numbers of killings and attacks against persons with albinism. An estimated 1 in 1,400 persons in Tanzania and East Africa has albinism, a genetic disorder that results in pale skin, hair and eyes, and which causes extreme sensitivity to light and bright exposures. It also leaves individuals with the disorder more susceptible to sunburns and skin cancer.
In parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, widespread and deep cultural myths regarding the magical powers that many believe is found in the blood and limbs of persons with albinism have resulted in the killing and mutilation of hundreds. Their appearance has made them objects of desire for those who practice witchcraft and believe their bodies can heal everything from malaria to impotence. Having faced discrimination from their families, many persons with albinism are also cast out as pariahs in their communities, and with limited access to health-care facilities and tools to aid in finishing their education, they often face seemingly insurmountable odds of survival.
But much needed assistance is arriving via non-governmental organizations, such as Under the Same Sun, which aim to protect and improve the lives of person with albinism by providing adequate resources for education and schools where they can learn in a safe environment. In 2014 photographer Federico Roscioli documented some of the schools where Under the Same Sun provides educational assistance and allows young persons to learn in mixed classrooms with persons who don’t have albinism.
All photos by Federico Roscioli
Children arrive at Buhangija Center for people with sight disabilities in Shinyanga, Tanzania, after the killing of an albino that took place in May. The center was the government’s answer to the killings of albinos that started in 2007 in the lake area. (Federico Roscioli) Students prepare to race in sport day on July 10 in Lake View School, Mwanza, Tanzania. In this school, Under The Same Sun offers a full guarantee for 52 children with albinism. This allows them to study in a normal mixed school instead of special centers. (Federico Roscioli) Yohana, 17 years old, was kept with the cows until the age of 11. He arrived at Buhangija Center for persons with sight disabilities in Shinyanga, Tanzania not being able to walk nor talk. He has a mental disability due to his past, but he is not being treated. (Federico Roscioli) Children with and without albinism play in a circle and observe their differences at the Lake View Schoo. (Federico Roscioli) Buhangija Center in Shinyanga, Tanzania, is defined as a school, but it hosts 200 people of all ages with sight disabilities. (Federico Roscioli) Masalu, an 18-year-old who can neither hear nor speak, arrived with her two siblings at Buhangija Center. She became pregnant after being raped. (Federico Roscioli) Alufema is one of the persons with albinism of the Kilolo District, according to a census by the Tulime Association. There have been no reported killings in this area, but the sunlight has been the primary concern for many persons with albinism. The census was fundamental in helping them receive sunscreen cream and medical check-ups. (Federico Roscioli) A student in Mwanza, Tanzania, who is sponsored by Under the Same Sun, writes his letters on the chalkboard very closely due to his impaired vision. Many persons with albinism experience considerable sight problems. (Federico Roscioli) Persons with albinism need to hide their skin from sunlight so it is mandatory to wear long-sleeve shirts and long trousers at Jelly’s Primary School in Mwanza. (Federico Roscioli) Under the Same Sun also provides students at Jelly’s Primary School with a monocle in order to see the blackboard. (Federico Roscioli) The monocles are no help, however, when it comes to looking at textbooks. (Federico Roscioli) Albinos of the Ilula village attend the trimester meeting with Sister Laurentina Bukombe, a nun with a degree in dermatology, who in collaboration with the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center and Tulime Association, provides albinos with sunscreen lotion, check-ups and proper treatment if needed. (Federico Roscioli) Sister Laurentina Bukombe checks the skin of an albino. (Federico Roscioli) Angela with one of her four children, none of them with albinism. (Federico Roscioli) A child at the Buhangija Center in Shinyanga, Tanzania. (Federico Roscioli)