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In Tanzania, new ADRA project to support albino community

Albinos in sub-Saharan Africa face isolation, physical threats, ADRA officials say

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency in the United Kingdom is providing support and training for the albino community in Tanzania, which faces a lack of education, scarce job opportunities and segregation in the region.

Launched this month, the two-year Tanzania Albino Society Support and Empowerment Project (TASSEP) will work with the region's albino community to provide training in networking, advocacy and management from their headquarters in Dar es Salaam.

The project follows previous projects by ADRA Tanzania, including the donation of sun-protection products, prescription glasses and tuition support for albino students. ADRA officials said a follow-up project is expected to focus on microfinance, as well as the medical and educational needs of the albino community.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, discrimination against albinos is accelerating. Social stigma, physical vulnerability to the sun and poor eyesight contribute to make the estimated 150,000 albinos in Tanzania the country's most impoverished people group. Albinos regularly face ridicule, isolation and physical threats -- the body parts of albinos are valued on the black market for use in witchcraft, ADRA officials said.

"The community in general has not reached the level of understanding that we are all the same, with only a difference in skin pigment," Zulfa, a teenaged member of Tanzania's albino community, told ADRA officials.

"We all have the same needs. We are all human," she said.

As part of TASSEP, volunteers are expected to form advocacy groups to travel to key locations in Tanzania to raise awareness of the albino community through presentations in schools and churches.

Through songs, dramas, stories and speeches, the groups will seek to educate the public about albinism and increase support for the albino community, ADRA officials said.

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