Asante Mariamu first learned about the Kabanga Protectorate Center and School in July of 2011. Originally a residential school for children with disabilities, Kabanga had been identified by the government as a “safe haven” for children with albinism in rural Western Tanzania. Over 70 children with albinism had been brought to the center, but were living without adequate shelter in deplorable conditions.
Dorms were overcrowded, classrooms were in terrible disrepair, and the center lacked adequate sanitary installations and had no furniture. In reality, the center operated primarily as a walled warehouse for kids with albinism, with schooling a haphazard effort.
In order to make changes with the resident’s priorities in mind and to get buy-in from different constituents, Asante Mariamu formed a committee that consisted of teachers, residents, parents and local leaders. The team identified a list of priorities, and Asante Mariamu got to work:
– In 2011: our team provided dining hall furniture, funded the construction of a new washing facility, and completely refurbished two crumbling classrooms. We also funded a poultry-raising project to give parents a sustainable income source and vocational training;
– In 2012: we built a small library, refurbished classrooms, created an indoor recreation area with arts and crafts supplies, toys and games. We taught each person with albinism about the condition, and how to protect their skin from the sun. Asante Mariamu also hosted a regional “albinism awareness day” and funded a dermatologist to spend one month at the center;
– In 2014: we funded a new sanitation system to handle the additional residents, and helped fund a skilled matron to look after the needs of the children. We continue to provide sun protective gear, educational material and sports equipment;
– In 2015: we hosted the first Asante Mariamu Soccer Tournament, bringing together over 800 people to watch games with integrated teams and learn the lesson of inclusion and “watu wenye ualbino ni binadamu kama sisi,” or “people with albinism are just like us.”
– In 2016: we hosted the second Asante Mariamu Soccer Tournament, and also sponsored a five-day camp for the children that included arts, sports, therapy, medical care, s’mores and a field trip. Here are a few images from our camp:
Rather than living like refugees, we want these displaced children to gain an education, learn about albinism and become advocates; so that when they can return home, they will be leaders within their communities. Please help us make these centers more than walled compounds.