Community clean-up project to create albinism awareness

The Ucan team, from left, are Siphokazi Magwa, Sonele Ntsundwana, Siphenati Mayekiso, Luzuko Booi, Andile Ntame, and Sylvia Mama.

A non-profit organisation that supports people with albinism will hold a clean-up at the derelict Parow train station, on Freedom Day, April 27, as part of its efforts to educate the public about the condition.

The Universal Change for Albinism Nobles (UCAN) will work with the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District and Mould Empower Serve on the day.

The project hopes to tackle misconceptions, prejudice and myths surrounding albinism, says Ucan’s chairwoman Sylvia Mama.

“The project is our way of giving back to the community,” she said.

According to acting regional manager of Metrorail Western Cape, Kaparo Molefi, Parow station is not operational and will need further repair work as it has been badly vandalised.

“Our aim is to ensure that all our rail corridors are operating as expected post the Covid-19 level-5 shutdowns and that all vandalised station facilities are repaired in line with customer needs,” he said.

Albinism is a rare genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin formed in the skin, hair or eyes. The two main types of albinism are oculocutaneous albinism, which affects the skin, hair and eyes, and ocular albinism, which affects only the eyes.

“We formed this organisation so that it can be governed by us for us, to raise our needs and wants,” said Ms Mama. “It is also to encourage our future generation to take part and claim their spaces in society without fear of discrimination.”

People living with albinism were still widely discriminated against, she said.

“TV and radio productions do not include persons with albinism. Marketing and media advertisements leave our children behind. We are not included in activities that can help us make a living, like everyone else,” she said.

“The only time we find publicity is in June because of Albinism Day on 13 June.

“The curriculum at most mainstream schools does not include our challenges, which forces us to be sent to special schools. Similarly with some universities which leads to some children dropping out when they reach university level.”

The organisation also wants to protect children with albinism.

“Our children do not walk freely on our streets, fearing for their lives, as many in townships believe that killing a person with albinism for his or her body parts can make one rich.”

Ucan hopes to expand the project to other areas, especially in areas where people living with albinism are most at risk. Ms Mama invited everyone to get involved in the community clean-up project.