Mangochi disability organizations decry community’s knowledge gap

Members of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) and District Disability Forum (DDF) in Mangochi have bemoaned the growing knowledge gap among community members on issues of disability.

Chairperson for APAM in the district who doubles as chairperson for the DDF, Jawadu London made the observation in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Tuesday where he appealed for support to enable both the association and the forum conduct awareness campaigns in the district.

The appeal follows the death of 39 year old woman with albinism at Ngatala in the area of Traditional Authority Chimwala who according to Jawadu had battled with skin cancer for a long time without due support from the community.

It is very sad that to date, we still have people with albinism who are not aware of how and where they can get assistance for the care of their skin, Landon said. This person we lost on Thursday, March 15, had skin cancer which, probably, if her skin was well protected from the start, could have been avoided.

London said there were a lot of people with disabilities in the district who were living hopelessly with some being discriminated against while others were still ignorant of their rights, noting that there was need for NGOs and partners to make deliberate efforts to support the two entities with resources for awareness campaigns on the rights of people with disabilities.

We need financial assistance to take the awareness campaign to every corner of the district, London appealed, adding: We also appeal to NGOs, the public and private sector to deliberately incorporate us in their meetings and events in the district so that we take advantage of such forums to sensitize the public.

On her part, Mangochi APAM and DDF Secretary, Lexa Zakaria, who accompanied London during the interview, observed that another major concern was the abductions and killings of people with albinism, citing a latest incident in the district where a four year old boy with albinism was kidnapped.

The incident occurred on the night of November 22, 2017 at Tumbwe Village in Traditional Authority Namavi and to date the boy, or his remains, have never been recovered.

Meanwhile, two men including an uncle to the boy are serving a 21 year jail term each after being convicted in the abduction of the minor.

Zakaria said there was need for continuous sensitization to communities across the district to root out the beliefs and myths that lead to the abduction and killing of people with albinism.

Of all the people with disabilities the ones who are suffering most are those with albinism because other than worrying over how to take care of their skin, they have to worry about their safety in the wake of these senseless abductions and killings, said Zakaria.

She added: What happened at Tumbwe Village is a clear testimony that there is need to invest much in community mobilization and sensitization on the matter and we really need organizations and all well meaning people to come in partnership in this task.

Mangochi district has around 220 recorded people with albinism with the highest population in Traditional Authorities Nankumba, Jalasi and Bwananyambi, according to statistics obtained from the district social welfare office.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA

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