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A Place Where We Belong

Fighting Against Stigmas and Superstitions about Albinism

Myths and superstitions about persons with albinism are putting this population at greater risk during COVID-19. In some parts of Africa, persons with albinism are hunted and sometimes killed because of beliefs that their body parts can alleviate sickness and bring good luck. In Rwanda, the Organization for the Integration and Promotion of People with Albinism (OIPPA) is fighting against such stigmas and superstitions, fearing an uptick of violence against persons with albinism as people become desperate for a coronavirus cure. 

Overall, the most pressing issues facing persons with albinism in Rwanda are a lack of access to sunscreen and protective gear like sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts. Due to discrimination, Rwandans with albinism also face challenges related to education, health care, and economic opportunities.

Founded in 2013, OIPPA operates in six districts in Rwanda, reaching thousands of people with albinism through its advocacy efforts and directly serving 215 people with albinism through direct services. As an example, in 2019 OIPPA was able to supply sunscreen to hundreds of its beneficiaries, and they have provided economic opportunities in soap making and other income-generating activities. Overall, OIPPA has created a sense of community and belonging among children and adults with albinism in Rwanda who once felt isolated and alone.

Photo of Thacien Biziyaremye.

Filmmaker: Thacien Biziyaremye

Thacien Biziyaremye is a journalist, director, editor, and camera operator and the co-founder of SACAMS (Special Advocacy, Communication and Media Services) Ltd. He is based in Kigali, Rwanda. 

Biziyaremye became engaged in journalism, storytelling, and video production after realizing that marginalized people, including persons with disabilities, were not accessing human rights like others in his village. He discovered a love for media so that he could advocate through his communications and storytelling skills. He joined the University of Rwanda and graduated in 2015 in Journalism and Communications. When not busy with work, Biziyaremye can be found taking photographs and shooting video. 

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