Albinism is a rare hereditary disorder that affects approximately 1 in 20,000 people worldwide. It is characterized by the absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. This is particularly true in African nations, where the percentage of occurrence is 13 times the global average. Negative beliefs and lack of education have led to the persecution of and discrimination against people with albinism.
Above is a portrait of my friend, Alex Munyere, who I met in 2011 on my first mission trip to Kenya. Listening to Alex’s stories and his struggles with albinism moved me to want to do something – but I didn’t know what. I learned that everyday items such as sunscreen, sunglasses and hats could have a huge impact on the quality of life of albinos in Kenya. Over the years, I’ve built a working relationship with Alex and continued to struggle with how to act on what I saw and what I learned.
Having recently graduated (December, 2016) from Appalachian State’s Commercial Photography program, I’ve realized the time for me to act is now. I leave today (September 4th), to return to Kenya to work with Alex, the Albino Society of Kenya (ASK), the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, and the Tanzania Albinism Society (TAS). I hope that my photographs and the stories I gather will contribute to raising awareness to the issues associated with albinism.
This project is one that God has placed on my heart to do ever since my last visit to Kenya in 2013. I don’t know where this will lead me but I am stepping out in my faith. It is my hope and prayer that my work will help raise awareness for people living with albinism in East Africa.
I will be in Kenya and Tanzania for two months. Over the course of these two months, I will be traveling around meeting people with albinism in all walks of life – government members, school children, mothers, fathers, orphans, village leaders. I will be photographing these beautiful people and hearing their stories and struggles. I will also be learning about the resources that persons with albinism have access to and exploring ways to potentially increase access to these needed resources (sunscreen, hats, eye care, etc.)
Some of the places I will be visiting:
- Albino Society of Kenya (ASK) offices, Nairobi
- Thika School for the Blind, outside of Nairobi
- Kwale School, Kenyan coast
- St. Lucy’s School, Meru, Kenya
- Nakuru, Kenya
- Nyumbani Children’s Home, outside of Nairobi
- and many more…..
I ask that you please pray for me while I am on this trip and that God will direct my path afterwards. I hope to blog about once a week while in Kenya and Tanzania. To learn more about this project or to learn how you can contribute, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org