Still photography is a powerful way to translate conditions and experiences between different cultures. I am motivated and dedicated to using my skills as a photographer to tell powerful and meaningful stories that evokes an understanding and/or action.
Until recently I knew very little about ‘Albinism.’ I live in the US and have had limited exposure to people with this genetic condition. This changed when I was introduced to Bibiana and Tindi. These teenage girls are from Tanzania and their dramatic life experiences have thrusted them into advocating a broader awareness for Albinism.
I did not know that, while Albinism is a recessive gene, there are countries with a significantly higher occurrence of this condition. While the US has an occurrence of 1:200,000, countries like Tanzania have rates of 1:1,300.
I did not know that there are places where Albino children are attacked and maimed for the purpose of harvesting body parts for profit. Tanzania is one of the countries that this superstitious practice is perpetuated by witch doctors and the ‘unknown’ source of funds.
When she was 10, while her sister slept, vicious men yielding machetes attacked Bibiana during the night. Her right leg was severed above the knee and two fingers on her right hand were lost during this brutal attack. Bibiana spent almost a year in the hospital recovering from this violence afraid to return to her home in the Mwanza Provenance near the southern shores of Lake Victoria. News of this horrific attack spread throughout the country and caught the attention of the honorable Alshaymaa Kwegyir. Alshaymaa is a person with albinism, yet she grew up with loving and protective parents. Therefore she did not suffer abhorrent discrimination, stigmatization and even murder. This support formed a stable foundation for Alshaymaa to complete her education and go into a career of civil service and today she is a represented in the Tanzanian parliamentary. Bibiana’s story was so compelling Alshaymaa went to see her girls and ultimately obtained legal guardianship of Bibiana and her sister Tindi. Artist and activist Yrneh Gabon Brown brought the condition of Bibiana’s original prosthetic leg to the attention of African Millennium Foundation.
Bibiana is now 16 and is in the US to be fitted for a new prosthetic leg. She is also conducting the physical therapy necessary to get her use to walking with a state of the art articulated prosthesis. Her original prosthetic leg had limited range of motion and reportedly served more like a “crutch.” Concerned citizens and organizations have teamed together to assist Bibiana and her plight including African Millennium Foundation, Orthopedic Institute for Children, and the Hanger Clinic. In addition Bibiana is working with a physical trainer and has been exposed to athletes and children with prosthetics in order to ensure she has a new outlook in life. It is inconceivable to imagine going through such a horrific experience, yet Bibiana is a survivor striving towards her future.
If you are interested in learning more about the great work these organizations are doing or donating to Bibiana’s cause please go to the links provided below:
African Millennium Foundation (patrons donated to bring Bibiana and Tindi to the States for treatment) http://www.1amf.org/
Orthopedic Institute for Children (donated medical and physical therapy care) http://www.orthohospital.org/
Hanger Clinic (donated the prosthetic) http://www.hangerclinic.com
Finally Bibiana’s story has inspired 13-year old Naria Slann to establish a fundraising effort called “A Sisters Village” to raise funds to send Bibiana and her sister Tindi to boarding school in the US. Naria wants to ensure that they have an opportunity to fulfill their dreams without the fear they experience at home. Go to the link below to provide your assistance to this worthwhile cause.
Bibiana and Tindi: Introducing me to Their Experiences and Living Beyond the Cultural Constraints Commonly Associated with Albinism in Tanzania
Until just a few months ago I knew very little about the condition known as ‘Albinism.’ I live in the United States so I had limited exposure or interaction with people with this genetic condition. All this changed when I was introduced to Bibiana and Tindi. These two teenage girls are from Tanzania and their life experiences have thrust them into advocating a broader awareness for Albinism.
- I did not know that while Albinism is a recessive gene there are countries and populations with a significantly higher occurrence of this condition. For instance while the United States has an occurrence of 1 in 200,000, countries like Tanzania have rates of Albinism of 1 in 1,300.
- I did not know that in this day and age there are places where Albino children are attached and maimed to harvest body parts for profit. Tanzania is one of the countries in East Africa that this medical-spiritual practice is perpetuated by witch doctors and the ‘unknown’ source of funds that perpetuates this evil practice.
Bibiana was attacked during the night after she lost her father to AIDs with men yielding machetes when she was only nine/ten with her younger sister Tindi in the room. Her right leg above the knee and two fingers on her right hand were lost during this brutal attack. It is inconceivable to imagine going through such a horrific experience, yet I will tell you these girls are survivors.
These images are a testament to the special bond between these sisters and the resolve they have to be more than a statistic and bound by this life experience. They are sweet girls with dreams and aspirations to continuing their education being the teenagers they are. The NGO African Millennium Foundation (AMF) raised funds and leveraged connections to bring Bibiana to the US to be fitted for a new prosthetic leg. Their story is powerful and has inspired others to action like 13-year old Naria Slann who established a fundraising effort called “A Sisters Village” to raise funds to send these girls to boarding school in the US in order to ensure that they have an opportunity to fulfill their dreams without the fear they experience at home. Go to the link below to provide your assistance to this worthwhile cause.