Mariamu Staford is a woman with albinism from a small village in the Lake District in Tanzania. In 2008, while sleeping with her 2-year-old son, Mariamu was attacked by two men who cut off her arms, hoping to profit from the gruesome trade in body parts of people with albinism. Her son was unhurt, and she survived the loss of her arms after spending weeks in a hospital.
Mariamu bravely identified her attackers, who were arrested but never convicted of the crimes they committed. In a bitter twist, her village turned against her for “bringing shame to them” by seeking justice.
After a segment on ABC News show 20/20 highlighted her plight, volunteers from all over worked to bring her to the United States to receive prosthetic arms. Asante Mariamu was created as a result of this effort.
Mariamu has adjusted to life with her new arms, and even received a vocational training certificate in commercial knitting. To remain safe and further her education, she is living at a remote boarding school, with her son Nio. She is knitting sweaters, quilts and shawls which she hopes to sell in stores and online.
Mariamu is determined to be intellectually and economically empowered, and wants to control her own life and raise her son Nio in peace and safety. Her goal is to build a house for her family on land donated by a friend and supporter, and to start a boutique where she can sell her handcrafted goods. Her long-term dream is to launch an Asante Mariamu branch in Tanzania to provide training, education and counseling services to people with disabilities.