Six African women living with albinism, who have overcome bullying, abuse, violence and discrimination, are to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, to dispel the negative perception people have about the skin disease.
The six, who are drawn from Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Senegal and South Africa and are all visually impaired, will scale the mountain each with own guide.
They aim to raise awareness about albinism and support action to end discrimination and human-rights violations against albinism.
“I want other people with albinism to realise that their ability to be anything is within them, I’m dedicating my climb to future generations of people with albinism and their happiness,” said ReginaMary Ndlovu, a South African singer, actress, dancer and all-round entertainer, who has survived abuse throughout her life.
Ms Ndlovu could not read due to her poor vision until the age of 25. She now uses her advocacy platform ReginaMarywas: My Voice, to confidently talk about the challenges she has overcome and make the condition widely visible and understood.
“Through climbing to Africa’s highest peak, I am changing the story of my own life, I am more than a victim; I am a survivor and a champion, people everywhere must see our journey on Kilimanjaro, so they do not give up hope while facing extreme challenges,” said Mariamu Staford from Tanzania.
Ms Staford, an activist and entrepreneur, had her arms cut off by assailants 10 years ago while she was asleep. Currently, her knitting business provides sweaters for school children in Moshi.
UN independent expert Ikponwosa Ero said on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism: “Women with albinism often face multiple discriminations; the climb will tell a new story of women with the condition, from one of victims to superheroes.
“Once at the summit, their message will be clear to the entire region and the whole world that they can rise above all obstacles set before them and thrive.”
People with albinism are frequently shunned and attacked due to superstitions about the rare genetic condition.
In some countries, they are targeted for their body parts, which are used in witchcraft.