Inverness County Cares members met many remarkable people at the Kawambwa School in Zambia.
This month we have chosen Fancy, an albino teacher at the St Odilia School. His autobiography gives a sense of the challenges of living as an albino in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Many people in Africa still believe that giving birth to a child with albinism is a curse and that the child can only be used for sacrificial ritual purposes. Hence the parents will be blamed, condemned and isolated from the rest of the family and community which makes many parents of children with albinism neglect them.
Here is his account:
“I was a firstborn son in a family of five girls and the only child born with albinism. My birth in a northern province of Zambia, brought confusion and conflict to my family, for some members on both sides did not welcome me [because of my albinism] and later made my father and mother separate for some years.
“I began my schooling but sadly due to my poor sight and how badly some of my peers treated me, my parents were forced to look for a school that would suit my condition. I moved to Saint Odilia Special School for the Visually Impaired [SOSS] in Mporokoso. I and my four younger sisters started living a difficult life as children of a single mother, whose only income at that time was selling tomatoes and vegetables at the market.
“Grade 8, was a wonderful and memorable year, for I was adopted by Chalice [chalice.ca], it was a life changing experience and that same year my parents decided to live together and we celebrated the birth of our last-born sister.
“I moved on to Mporokosa Secondary School and completed my senior secondary education. I was accepted to study for a three-year teaching course of information and communication technology and visual impairment in special education, at Zambia Institute of Special Education in Lusaka. I am now in my third and final year of completing my course. Financially it has been difficult for me to pay college fees in full, but I have survived.
“My education at SOSS, made me realize the importance of choosing a career so that I can help my fellow brothers and sisters with visual impairment have equal opportunities. Eventually my dream of being a teacher did come true and I went for my first teaching experience at SOSS. Teaching learners with visual impairments is very satisfying and I am enjoying my work.
“I wish to thank everyone who has contributed positively to my life, despite all the negative attitudes towards children with albinism and visual impairment. My special thanks to you the reader of my story, thank you for taking your precious time to read this.”
Betty Jane Cameron (ICC) adds, “The first time I saw Fancy was at a football/soccer game where he coached and ran effortlessly the length of the field. I had no idea he was visually impaired. Fancy talked about the difficulties of travel by bus and transferring or waiting in unfamiliar places; of walking on the streets and fearing someone would attack him, or taunt him as if he were worthless; and the ever-present anxiety, worrying every night that he may be attacked in his home and kidnapped or killed for body parts. He told us he has never felt safe except at SOSS. He wondered how albino folks were treated in Canada.”
Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our Web site: https://invernesscountycares.com or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts will be provided.