In Tanzania: Albino children hunted for their body parts get a new new shot at life

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Baraka and Mwiulu in New York

Two Tanzanian boys with albinism got new prosthetic limbs after they had their arms cut off.

The killing of albinos is common in Tanzania.

One out every 1,500 Tanzanians is an albino. Despite the high rate, albinos are not seen as ideal human beings.

Superstitious beliefs have led to the killing of albinos in the Great Lakes region in Tanzania.

Tanzanian beliefs

They think that persons with albinism are not human,” Vicky Ntetema told “Nightline” on ABC. “If there's any disaster, there is drought, there are floods, hurricanes … they are blamed for that.

 

Ntetema is the executive director of Under the Same Sun, an NGO based in Canada dedicated to the plight of dedicated albinos.

The witch doctors are like gods,” Ntetema said. “They tell their clients that bones and other organs of persons with albinism if mixed with a magic potion … will make them successful, will make them win elections, will make their businesses boom, will help even in their love affairs.”

The Story of Baraka and Mwigulu

Two Tanzanian children, with albinism  Baraka, 7, and Mwigulu, 14  are victims of this backward way of thinking.

When Mwigulu was 10 his arm was cut off. "One day we were coming from school,” he said through a translator. “We saw two people who were walking ahead of us. … One covered my face. And the other one starting cutting me. He cut the first time and he missed … He cut the second time and this time succeeded. Then he took my arm and ran away with it" he said through a translator.

ALSO READ: In Ondo, albinos get free eye glasses, sun protection creams

At just four years old, albino hunters broke into his home and cut off his hand. "Baraka himself was screaming,” Ntetema said. “The mother was left alone -- to defend Baraka." She ended up with some serious head injuries.

The law however caught up with the perpetrators. Three men who attacked Baraka were sentenced to 62 years. Mwigulu's attackers, six men, were sentenced to 20 years each.

Vicky Ntetema

Vicky Ntetema was once a journalist, a radio reporter for BBC Africa for 18 years. In 2008 she had an award-winning report which saw her go undercover as a businesswoman in search of business parts.

While the report got her awards it also got her into trouble. After the report came out she had to go underground. Ntetema also received a lot of death threats, some from officials in power she claimed.

Prosthetic Limbs

This summer both boys Baraka and Mwigulu travelled to New York to get prosthetic limbs. They stayed at the  Dare to Dream House in Staten Island, New York for three months. The Dare to Dream House is run by Global Medical Relief Fund, a nonprofit which facilitates treatment for young victims of war or natural disasters who have lost limbs.

 

This was the second time the boys were in New York. They were there 2 years ago to get prosthetic limbs which they eventually outgrew.

Happy Ending

The prosthetic treatment of Baraka, Mwigulu and 2 other Tanzanian boys was arranged by Global Medical Relief Fund’s executive director Elissa Montanti. Over the span of two decades, Montanti has raised enough money for over 200 amputee children.

 

A few weeks later after their arrival, the four boys got their prosthetic limbs.



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