Seeking refuge for young persons with albinism in Tanzania

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