Persons with albinism plead for skills training, startup loans

Malawi Government and its development partners must seriously consider providing skills training, materials, equipment and business startup loans to people with albinism if the country is to address their destitution and vulnerability, persons with albinism in Mangochi and Ntcheu districts have pleaded.

Charles Chidambukira Ndau, who comes from Traditional Authority (T/As) Chakhumbira in Ntcheu, and Awese Maguba and Lekeleni Evans from T/As Chowe and Chimwala in Mangochi, respectively, said providing them with skills training and startup capital would enable persons with albinism to start their own sustainable businesses to support their families instead of relying on handouts from people of goodwill.

The trio made the appeal separately during a media tour the Malawi Human Rights Resources Centre (MHRRC) organized to allow journalists appreciate the success of Cultivating an Environment for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (CEPPAM) Project, which the organization is implementing with funding from European Union (EU) through the Christian Blind Mission.

Lekeleni Evans (right) with her sister, Chrissy, captured outside their house–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

The project aims to build the capacity and empowerment of persons with albinism with necessary knowledge and skills to understand their rights and to hold duty-bearers to account. The project further aims to eliminate all forms of violence against persons with albinism in the targeted districts, strengthening policy and legal frameworks to protect, promote and defend the rights of persons with albinism.

Ndau observed that there has been a significant improvement on the enjoyment of their rights following enhanced awareness campaign.

He said persons with albinism have now been incorporated in various local governance structures such as Village Development Committees (VDCs), Area Development Committees (ADCs) and Full Council meetings.

“Our major challenge now is on economic empowerment. As you might be aware, most of us are economically disempowered, a situation that forces us into picking menial piecework that exposes us to life-threatening conditions such as working under direct sunlight,” said Ndau.

Maguba–Without reliable source of income, we struggle to feed our families

Speaking in separate interview, Maguba – who is singlehandedly raising three children in Saiti Kadzuwa Village in T/A Mponda in Mangochi – said without any reliable source of income, her life is difficult and they sometimes spend days without eating at all.

Ndimadalira kuchapa zovala za anthu kuti ndipeze ndalama yogulira chakudya komanso zofunikira pa maphunziro a ana anga (I depend on laundry piecework to feed and educate her children). But life has never been easy at all because the money I earn from this piecework is not adequate to meet our needs,” she said.

On her part, Evans stressed that providing persons with albinism with startup business capital would enable them to survive on profits from their businesses.

MHRRC Programme Officer Enock Chinkhuntha backed the request, saying it is high time deliberate policies were developed to lift persons with albinism out of poverty.

Chinkhuntha said the appeal for skills training and startup capital would form part of the recommendations his organization will submit to the government and its development partners for consideration in their future programmes.

MHRRC is working with the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, District Councils and other human rights organizations to achieve its goal.

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