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A Place Where We Belong

OIPPA Fights For the Rights of Rwandans with Albinism

One of the most pressing issues Rwandans with albinism face is a lack of access to sunscreen and protective gear like sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts. Due to stigma and discrimination, they also encounter challenges related to education, health care, and economic opportunities. During COVID-19, superstitions about the medicinal powers of the body parts of persons with albinism had some worrying they would be hunted and killed.

Founded in 2013, the Organization for the Integration and Promotion of People with Albinism (OIPPA) educates against these types of superstitions and works to break the stigma around albinism. Operating in six districts in Rwanda, it reaches thousands of persons with albinism through its advocacy efforts and direct services. Over the last 10 years, OIPPA has created a sense of community and belonging among children and adults with albinism in Rwanda who once felt isolated and alone. They also have provided economic opportunities in soap making and other income-generating activities. “After the establishment of OIPPA,” says Akimpaye Riziki, an OIPPA participant. “I realized that I am not alone, and I helped some of them be strong.”

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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