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Albino children: A story of courage about Sister Helena confronting the killers

Albino KillingTo read about the harrowing tales from Tanzania about the fate of Albino children in the newspapers, regularly reported in recent years, is one thing. To come face to face with these innocent little kids and hearing about their individual stories of attempted kidnapping, parents abandoning them without food or drink, parents doing the unthinkable to sell such children to witchdoctors where they would face a certain cruel end, and to top it all, one of them literally snatched from the jaws of death as the killers came within meters, machetes at the ready, is quite another thing.

 

None of these sweet little kids asked for this gene disorder and apart from the look of their skin and the blond hair which comes with it, they are just the same as every other kid I have ever seen.

Meeting them was a truly exceptional moment for me, sensing their apprehension when being hugged tight, me just wanting to convey to them – they only speak Kiswahili – the emotion I felt. Some of them hugged back equally tight, showing how they felt being hugged by a stranger and that perhaps their confidence had indeed started to return after their earlier experiences in life which must have been a complete and utter shock to them, being shunned, bullied, beaten, and hunted.

I owe this experience to Godwin Joshua, who himself only met these kids a few weeks ago after being posted as a relief manager to the Kirawira Serena Luxury Safari Camp from his regular workplace at the Lake Duluti Serena in Arusha. Godwin relayed to me how, when visiting the lakeside town of Lamadi to check on the camps’ CSR project, a primary school, more by accident than by design he heard about the orphanage, looked for it and his life never was to be the same again either. He reported his experience to his superiors, via the Serena Tanzania Managing Director Mr. Mugo Maringa right up to the Serena CEO Mr. Mahmud Janmohamed, who immediately endorsed Godwin’s proposal to adopt the orphanage as an additional CSR project.

This is the story of Sister Helena, who in her own words, while working in the United States doing missionary work, literally heard her Lord’s calling ring in her ears. it brought her back to the town of Lamadi at the shores of Lake Victoria where she then gathered young Albino kids to save them and care for them. Her house was turned into an orphanage, now home to some 40 albino children as well as 14 other orphans or abandoned kids with physical disabilities.

‘WARM greetings from Mary Mother of God Perpetual Help Center.

We have been blessed to care for the most vulnerable and unwanted children at our center; we do care for the albino children ages from 1year old to 17years old. We do care also for the children with physical disabilities. As for now, we do have 54 children at our center. 40 children living with albinism. 14 with physical needs, those are not albinos. Among the 40 albino children, 28 are girls and 12 are boys. Among the 14 children with physical needs, 6 are girls and 8 are boys.

Some of the children attend primary school in different classes. All the children are in very good outstanding with their education, most of them are in the top-ten of their classes, very talented children.

WHY THE CHILDREN TO BE AT THE CENTER?

With the outbreak of the killing of people living with albinism in Tanzania, l, Maria Helena, the founder of the Mary Mother of God Center, come up with a vision to start a safe haven place to care for the vulnerable, hunted, and rejected albino children in Lamadi. l started the Center in 2011 till now. The demand of the center is on high rise. till now, l have no place to welcome in the albino children who are the most hunted and killed with their own fellow people, by the belief that albino body parts have magical things for richness!

An albino child to be born in the family is counted to be a curse or a bad luck. So, the family have to throw a child away, or find a center to put the child. Nowadays, even the family with an albino child, can sell a child to the witchdoctors to be killed, claiming to make potions and become rich overnight.

As for now, our center faces a big challenge of dormitories, building a school for our children so that they can be near it [and not have to travel some distance over unsafe grounds]. We need a ground well, for safe water. And other buildings for the whole campus to offer extra facilities.

They are so many albino children suffering in the remote villages around our region who have no help. As for future we would like to care for as many children as 200. That is why we do need more dormitories.

l experienced a horrible event in my life that l won’t forget, when l turned a six-year albino boy back home, because there was no more room in the house, though l promised him to come back when l get a room, it was unbelievable, to find that just in the same week a boy was killed by people who hunted for his body parts. l still experience the untold story.

With humble heart, with warm spirit, l would like to welcome all the people of goodwill, and those interested in saving the lives of these precious children of God, who are hunted and killed like animals.

Thanks, God richly bless you.

Sr. Maria Helena
Lamadi, Tanzania

If ever there was a Christmas story to be told in a different way, yet similar – after all the family of Joseph was turned away by all and had to find refuge in a stable where Mary then gave birth – this would be it. If compassion can be raised to support Sister Maria Helena, if well-wishers can kick off a crowdfunding campaign, if individuals and companies reading this can provide grants to the center, arrange for regular funding, these innocent Albino children may just be able to have a future and Sister Helena’s wish to take in another 160 to give them a safe haven and refuge from an otherwise cruel world, may yet become reality.

The posting of Godwin Joshua, random as it might seem at first thought, surely was an act of fate, to bring him face to face with the kids in the orphanage. The chance reading by Sister Helena of the plight of the Tanzanian Albino children, led to an instant recognition that she had received her call from a higher power. My own decision to spend a day seeing the Kirawira Serena’s Corporate Social Responsibility project in the area, instead of sticking to my earlier plan to do as many game drives in the Serengeti as I could – ask me not what changed my mind but I did feel a sudden urge to ask for this to be arranged for me – all point to one thing: Divine Intervention. Whether one believes in God, or not, there were powers at work bringing Sister Helena to Lamadi and Godwin Joshua to Kirawira from where he was able to discover the orphanage.

It is my request – not that I have done that often before – for my readers to do their good deed of either still 2015 or for 2016 and extend whatever support they can muster to the center, and if successful it will have been my own little contribution to create a safer environment for the Albino children of this part of Tanzania. Financial support can be channeled through Kirawira Serena or their Tanzanian head office in Arusha or their corporate head office in Nairobi to give donors the peace of mind that their funds will be spent in a transparent and accountable fashion.

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