Education and training for children and young adults with albinism
 Bujumbura Mairie, Burundi

 

THE CONTEXT OF YOUR INITIATIVE

The situation people with albinism are facing in Burundi is extremely worrying: they are victims of violence and discrimination and have limited access to their economic, social and cultural rights.

Albinism is considered a supernatural phenomenon. People with albinism are perceived to be different and bestowed with good or evil powers depending on the local beliefs. They are therefore held in disdain, discriminated against, and face various kinds of persecution, even as far as kidnap and massacres. Rising violence against albinos can be attributed to the growing belief that their internal organs bring wealth and power to those who possess them, leading to a boom in trafficking.

Often rejected since childhood, albinos have low self-esteem, consider themselves abnormal and are very withdrawn. Firstly, therefore, they need help accepting their condition.

ALDP tries to raise awareness and provide training for albinos in order to curb inequality, and help them join Burundian society, like all other citizens.

THE ACTIVITIES CARRIED OUT AS PART OF YOUR INITIATIVE

In partnership with Albinos Sans Frontières – Burundi (ASF), ALDP is working to draw up a census and identify unmet needs. “We visit families and the parents also come to us to ask whether it is possible to send their children to school or to train young adults”.

ALDP supervises albino children, offering them access to education at its school. Training in cutting and sewing (production in the morning; training in the afternoon) is also offered in ALDP’s workshops.

Learning alongside other young people and children at ALDP helps the albinos to be accepted by others and come to terms with their social difference.

The training and education are paid for by ALDP; the families are not asked to pay for anything. Items produced in the sewing workshop are sold to cover costs.

We have been running this activity for four years, and currently there are:
- Four children aged 3 to 7 receiving free primary education
- Three young women enrolled on the sewing course.

After the course, we give them a sewing machine and a small amount of money to help them set up their own workshops. They also get a training certificate.

WHO IS INVOLVED FROM OUR GROUP?

The Emmaus school has three sections (infant, primary and secondary). There are three infant classes for children aged three to five; six primary classes for children from six to twelve and three secondary classes for children over thirteen.

There are two categories of supervisor:
- For the income-generating activities:
The school staff are paid
* Those who work in production activities are paid on a percentage basis (60% for ALDP and 40% for the supervisors) and do voluntary work for the vocational training
- Those who run awareness-raising and associated activities are volunteers.

The project coordinator monitors the activity and submits a report to the executive committee, which then submits it to the organisation’s general assembly.

WHICH PARTNERS ARE YOU WORKING WITH ON THIS INITIATIVE?

We work alongside ASF-Burundi and our activities complement each other:
- ASF-Burundi has a sewing workshop at its head office, however it isn’t sufficient for production and training needs, so they send young albinos to us for training
- A census of people with albinism
- Organisation of awareness-raising sessions to challenge the views that society, and their families, have of people with albinism
- Lobbying the authorities in order to instigate public policies that take account of albinos’ specific needs and have the protection of albino people written into law.

Learning alongside other young people and children at ALDP helps the albinos to be accepted by others and come to terms with their social difference.

FUTURE PROSPECTS

Increase the number of people with albinism who benefit from our socio-economic activities.

SHARE YOUR PROGRESS AND THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THIS INITIATIVE

Eight people who followed the course and have now set up their own workshops. We keep in touch and visit them, and give them equipment such as thread or fabric when we receive them by container.

We are going to keep on some of the beneficiaries to work in our workshops as trainers and producers.

We encourage them not to underestimated themselves; we have taught them they have the same rights as others. They are with other people and no longer feel ill at ease.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO ADD ANY INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR INITIATIVE?

The President of the Republic sent the administrator of the Ntahangwa local authorities, accompanied by a leader of the district in Gitega where there schools are located, to take photos of our activities. He saw our school as he was passing through and asked to visit it.

During district meetings, the administrator makes reference to our activities. This is recognition of our work by the government.

WHAT ARE YOUR PROSPECTS?

- Seek new financial partners
- Initiate innovative training and supervision programmes:
o The women have asked to receive training in bedsheet embroidery
o At ALDP we have a group of musicians and a recording studio. Talented young people produce and do outdoor performances. Some young albinos have asked to join them and to have guitar lessons.

About

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Location

Bujumbura Mairie, Burundi

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