A 30-year old woman with albinism in Mzuzu, Constance Msiska, is failing to find accommodation in the area as landlords are denying renting her their houses.
According Msiska, this is because landlords fear they would be in trouble with authorities; they fear that they would be the first suspects should anything bad happen to the her.
Msiska said that her problem started when the house she was renting in Chiputula collapsed due to the floods in April last year.
“Since then, the hunt for a house to rent, has been a hassle in my life. I have been living at Lujeso Community Based Organization (CBO) offices in Chiputula Township, for the past few months,” said Msiska.
Msiska, who operates a small business in Mzuzu, said although she found two houses that she wanted to rent, sadly when the owners discovered that she is an albino, they refused to rent their homes; “they said no, fearing that if anything (bad) happens to me, they might be the first suspects.”
However, two days ago, she occupied a house in the same location (Chiputula) without the knowledge of the owner, because the CBO leadership had asked her to vacate, saying her stay in the office had affected operations.
“I am told on Tuesday that the landlord came at my house, but he did not meet me so I don’t know what he will tell me,” she said.
Lujeso CBO Executive Director, Solister Kasambala, said Msiska has been one of the CBO’s beneficiaries because of her condition, and when she became homeless three months ago, she was given one of their offices to occupy until she finds a house to rent.
While admitting that they evacuated her out of the CBO, Kasambala said that the offer of accommodation was a relief intervention and not a permanent solution.
Kasambala, however, said even though the CBO can no longer house Msiska, if well-wishers could help her acquire land, the CBO could source a donor to build her a decent house.
In his response, the resident of Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Overton Kondowe, described the development as unfortunate.
He partly blamed the way messages against the killings and abductions of people with albinism are framed, saying it fuels stigma and discrimination against the said minority group.
Kondowe gave an example of the police awareness campaigns, the message which said, ‘anyone who is close to a person with albinism, will be the first suspect if anything happens to them’.
He said there is need for communication experts to properly craft messages for disseminated on the rights of people with albinism.
When she was asked why she does not go to her home village, Msiska said she has fears to live there as the houses are sparsely located, and this would be a security threat to her.
Constance Msiska, who hails from Group Village Headman Khoza, in Traditional Authority Mankhambela’s area, in Nkhata Bay District.