For two years FUM helped with further training for Dr Mary Mkamwa, a skin specialist. She is now fully qualified and one of her responsibilities is for the 52 people in Nzega District who suffer from albinism. This includes the family in Mambali.
Sadly the mother died recently of skin cancer, a common problem due to the lack of protective melanin in their skin.
To help Dr Mary in her work FUM made a one-off donation to provide a year's supply of factor 60 suncream for each of the 52 sufferers. They will also receive regular check-ups with Dr Mary.
In autumn 2018 Sebastian, our excellent volunteer liaison officer in Nzega District, told us of a particularly distressing family situation that he had come across in his work as a Social Welfare Officer. He asked if there was any way that FUM might provide some help for the family.
FUM's constitution does not allow us to support individuals or families; only institutions such as clinics, colleges and schools can be supported. So FUM Secretary, Rod Smith, suggested a crowd-funding initiative and we were delighted that in just over two weeks it raised £1500. We are very grateful to all who contributed.
They live near the remote village of Mambali, almost 100 km south west from Nzega along rough dirt tracks. The family of seven all suffer from albinism, a genetic condition where their skin lacks the melanin pigment that gives protection from the sun. Eye damage and skin cancer are often side effects.
More enlightened people in Tanzania accept those with albinism but in areas where traditional beliefs are stronger sufferers can be isolated, or even in danger, despite the government's efforts to promote acceptance.
With no land to cultivate the family has been reliant on begging. The aim is to help them become self-sufficient for the future but this cannot happen in isolation. Following the expression of support from FUM members the District Commissioner (DC) visited the family and addressed the local community. As a result support for the family is now coming from several directions.
- FUM member donations provided an initial tranche of basic foodstuffs
(rice, maize etc) sufficient until their first harvest in 3 months time. We also supplied seeds and fertiliser to get them started in farming.
- Village officers have released a suitable piece of land to cultivate and the local agriculture officer has been directed by the DC to provide close supervision.
- More weatherproof 'brick' housing is desirable and with a pit latrine. Village officers have promised 500 standard mud blocks together with sand and shingle. We will meet the cost of labour and other items such as roofing and basic furniture.
- The school age child can attend the local Primary School and have her needs met.
- Medical support for the side effects of albinism will be provided six monthly by the District Council in Nzega.
- These visits will give Sebastian the opportunity to monitor the family's progress and keep the District Commissioner informed.
In recognition of the village's support for the family FUM will provide funds for much needed extra toilets at the Primary School.