By Chioma Obinna
As Onome Akinlolu Majaro foundation, clocks four last week, founders have said the organization was created to fight discrimination, stigma as well as boost self-confidence of persons living with albinism, PWAs, in Nigeria.
The Foundation also decried the killings of PWAs in some African countries noting that persons with albinism are like any other human except for the fact that they lack melamine which brought about their colour and another health challenge that comes with it. Speaking during its 4th Anniversary celebration in Lagos, OAM foundation Communication Strategist, Mr. Chimezie Udochukwu said the organization is changing the narratives about how Nigerians perceive PWAs in Nigeria. “The society should see PWAs beyond their complexion but what they can offer as human. In trying to do this, we have partnered with organisations both in Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, the United States, Canada, and UK.”
On their milestones four years after, he said: “We have distributed over 300 free eyeglasses, scholarships to persons with albinism. About 8,000 people have benefited from our free eye screening programmes while over 300 have been given free eyeglasses. We have given scholarship to 10 persons. We did a short film of about 25 minutes, ‘beyond the complexion” as part of our activities to create awareness and build their confidence in 2017.“
He appealed to the government to Fastrack the establishment of a national policy on albinism that would protect PWAs in the country.
Speaking, Co-Founder, OAM, Mr. Akinlolu Majaro who disclosed that a total of N10 million have been spent by his family to change the lives of PWAS in the last four years said: We set up OAM foundation because we understand there is a lot of discrimination against PWAs and in the last four years we have seen many PWAs come out to tell stories about how they were discriminated or lost their job opportunities. Our foundation is to show that everyone is human and should be treated like one.
About 95 per cent of the N10 million came from my pocket but I have no regrets. He appealed to cooperate organisations and kind-spirited Nigerians to support the foundation to the campaign to the next level where every human is treated equally without discrimination or stigma.
Speaking, Co-Founder, Mrs Onome Majaro who is also a person with Albinism expressed joy that the foundation has achieved more within the shortest period with limited fund.
According to her, operating as a self-funding organisation, they have been able to empower albinos in Nigeria and run a steady campaign to change perception and myths about PWAs.
Recalling how her mother, Mrs Rita Okagbare showed her love and affection as well as boosted her self-confidence, she advised young couples that just gave birth to PWAs to learn to love them and keep them away from the sun.
Speaking on some of the challenges face by PWAs, she said: People find it difficult to believe that PWAs are discriminated but how many PWAs has a 95 per cent jobs? How many PWAs are in a relationship? How many PWAs are doing well in school? Because for you to do well in school your teacher has to understand that you cannot see the board, you need to sit close to the board and be patient with you.”
The high point of the anniversary programme was the distribution of free eyeglasses to 58 children with albinism.