Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Albinism Awareness Day on 13 June through a virtual event where various individuals shared their experiences of the challenges that persons with albinism face. The theme for 2022 is “United in making our voices heard”.
In line with the theme of making the voices of people with albinism heard, the Student Counselling unit at MUT partnered with the Pink Roses Foundation to highlight the plight of people living with albinism.
The virtual event, which was facilitated by Hlobisile Masinga of the Pink Roses Foundation, covered topics that included Myths, facts and challenges faced by people living with albinism; LivingMyBestLife: Navigating the academic journey as a young person living with albinism; Albinism & the career industry; Realizing your true potential as a person with albinism; Albinism, cultural misconceptions & harmful traditional practices; and Albinism & Self-care.
Dr Paulette Naidoo, Director of the Student Counselling unit at MUT, introduced the dialogue as part of her unit’s efforts to raise awareness on issues that students face as they navigate their way through university.
Aphiwe Mtolo, a graduate of the University of Zululand, shared his experiences of the challenges he encountered as a person with albinism.
“There are a lot of myths around people living with albinism. We have seen many cases of people with albinism losing their lives because of the myths that are there. The most common ones are the ones that say people with albinism are a cure for HIV, they can be used for traditional medicine; they don’t die, they disappear. There are just a lot of myths,” said Mtolo.
Mtolo added that being called names using derogatory terms was also one of the major challenges growing up as a person with albinism.
Phiwenkosi Mjadu, the Disability Unit Coordinator at the University of Zululand, said that students with albinism suffered stigmatization, rejection and fear of being hunted.
Mjadu added that access to information was important in raising awareness of people with albinism and their needs
Sister Bongiwe Sithole of the MUT Campus Health emphasised the significance of protection from the sun for people with albinism.
“The more skin you cover – such as covering your neck up, wearing long sleeves and wearing pants – that would be the best thing you can do for yourself. But that also depends on the weather,” Sister Sithole said.
The United Nations declared 13 June as the International Albinism Awareness Day in 2013 in response to the human rights violations that people with albinism.