Albinism is an inherited genetic condition that is characterized by a lack of melanin; the pigment that normally gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes. Albinism affects around 1 in every 17,000 people in America and Europe, whilst studies have shown that numbers can be as high as 1 in 1,500 in African countries like Tanzania.
This International Albinism Awareness Day, our friend and ex-board member Liz Anderton shares her story;
"Born with albinism, life has had a few struggles; being visually impaired and, of course, a child who looked different with real white hair. Main stream school in the fifties was a challenge. I had a hand magnifier, audio books were not available, and recording equipment was a large reel to reel machine. Fortunately I did have some help from family and a personal tutor. I succeed in training as a physiotherapist which opened up opportunities to have a fulfilling career and the chance to travel and work both in Holland and Canada.
When I retired, I joined the board of Visibility and was Chair of the board of directors for 10 years. It was great to work with dedicated staff and volunteers who were committed to providing first class services.
I am passionate about improving the lives of disabled people and I don't see albinism as a disastrous condition, but it certainly poses considerable challenges. There is often a lack of awareness of the problems and needs of people with albinism."
As we mentioned earlier, African countries tend to have a higher percentage of albinism within the population. Despite this, people living with the condition can experience serious discrimination and even attacks. To change that we need to raise awareness of the condition and dispel the myths which are leading to this violence.
To find out more please visit https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2016/12/5-facts-about-albinism-in-malawi/