Single mother Siphelile Machingamidze says living with albinism has not been easy as many Zimbabweans are not aware that this is a hereditary condition that cannot be physically transmitted to any person.
Machingamidze told VOA Studio 7 the government should create an environment that would ensure that they have access to medication, lotions and eye glasses, which are critical in their day-to-day lives.
This call comes at a time when the world on Monday marked the United Nations International Albinism Awareness Day. This year’s them is ‘Celebrate diversity, promote inclusion, protect our rights’.
Machingamidze said, despite being a primary school teacher, it has taken her professionalism at her job to gain the respect she deserves as many stigmatized her due to lack of knowledge on albinism.
"I have had to work hard to command the respect that comes with being a school teacher, now my class is overflowing as I have managed to get children in my class to achieve great results and now their parents are lining up to bring their children to my class,” said Ms. Machingamidze.
A woman poses with her children with albinism in northern Malawi. (L. Masina/VOA)
She said her health challenges have been manageable of late due to the free treatment offered by dermatologist Donald Mutangadura “who has been treating all my skin problems.
"I recently had a wound on my cheek which was very difficult to treat and would have cost me thousands of dollars were it not for the free treatment offered by Dr Mutangadura, now my problems are not so severe,” said Machingamidze.
She is a mother of two children who are both not living with albinism. Machingamidze was stigmatized when she gave birth as the medical personnel and some pregnant mothers believed some local myth that if a pregnant mother sees an albino they need to spit on their stomach to avoid giving birth to an albino.
"This is one of the biggest misconceptions that we face as albinos. People believe so many myths about us some families find it difficult to accept us as in-laws even if our partners may want to marry us.
"My biggest wish is for the government to make lotions, medications and eye glasses readily accessible to those living with albinism especially those in the rural areas who are succumbing to preventable diseases due to lack of access to sun screen and sun hats amongst other things. Government should treat albinism like HIV/AIDS where they have made drugs more accessible for those that need them,” said Machingamidze.