The Muse, TAFE Sydney Institute
Albinism is a genetic defect that prevents melanocyte cells from producing the melanin pigments, which provide the body with color and protect the skin from the sun's radiation.
In western nations, roughly 1 out of every 20,000 people is albino; Tanzania, has the world's highest ratio at about 1 out of every 2,500 people. Tanzania's geographical location near the equator causes irreversible damage to the body cells of albinos; many lose their eyesight, while others succumb to skin cancer. But this is not where the albino's problem ends.
Over the past several years in Tanzania, more than 70 albinos have been murdered and have had their limbs stolen for use in black magic potions. Tanzania, considered one of the world's poorest countries where people exist on a meager $30 per month, has Africa's largest black market for limbs, where the trade of albino limbs can fetch prices of $3,000 for a hand or foot.
Investigations into the murder cases gave rise to the suspicion that Tanzanian businessmen were involved in ordering the murders of albinos to improve their quality of life.
In an effort to protect them, Tanzania's government has constructed shelters where albinos now live separated from their relatives and in perpetual fear for their lives.
White Shadows is a benefit project initiated by Liron Shimoni, to collect sunglasses and sunblock for Tanzania's albinos. Among the donors were universities, associations for blind, various sunglasses shops along with private individuals.
During his visit to Tanzania, Shimoni distributed the contributions among the established emergency centers. The collection efforts still continue; currently the focus is on acquiring sunblock creams and wide-brimmed hats.
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