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"Caring for life" - health education of the population from Bugisi Mission area and medical care of the Children and Youth from the Albino Center in Buhangija

Tanzania has the highest percentage of albinos in the world. Albinism sufferers experience social isolation, loneliness and often also violent assaults resulting from superstitions and the belief that their body parts and potions prepared on the basis thereof have certain magical powers. In Tanzania, albinos – their healthcare made particularly difficult by the climate – suffer from various skin and eye diseases and live in constant fear for their lives and future.

A residence for blind, deaf and albino children, the Buhangija Centre is located in the Shinyanga Region, among the most neglected in Tanzania in terms of development and education. Its inhabitants can only expect very limited medical care due to an insufficient number of healthcare units, which are located many kilometres apart and are short on medical staff. Also affecting this situation is the fact that the offered healthcare services are paid. For these reasons, provision of first-aid training to members of local communities is of particular importance. This is particularly so because of the living conditions (all dwellings have hearths), work conditions (often in rice paddies), climate (heat stroke) and wild animals (biting, stinging), which pose great risks to the local population’s health.

The project was inspired by the awareness of the needs of the Buhangija Centre, which at the time of project implementation was inhabited by around 360 albino, 69 blind and 40 deaf children, all in need of holistic care. Project activities were also aimed at educating the local community and improving the quality of life of albino people living outside the centre.

"Caring for life" - health education of the population from Bugisi Mission area and medical care of the Children and Youth from the Albino Center in Buhangija

The project lasted from 20 June 2016 to 31 December 2016. The volunteer resided in Buhangija between 17 August 2016 and 31 December 2016.

The project was designed to improve the healthcare given to children and adolescents of the Buhangija Center for albino, blind and deaf children by providing the unit with access to qualified medical care and pre-medical first-aid education, and by increasing awareness of the issue of albinism among the population within the Bugisi Mission’s area of educational outreach.

The volunteer spent three days during each week of her stay providing holistic nursing care to the residents of the state-run Buhangija Centre, where she worked alongside local staff and two other volunteers of the Polish Aid Volunteering Programme who were working there at the same time on a project called ‘Independence of a blind child’.

In order to raise awareness in the local community on the subject of albinism, the volunteer collaborated with a Polish lay missionary from the African Missions Association, who had been working in Bugisi since 2015, to organise seminars on the subject for the residents of the Bugisi Mission and the inhabitants of surrounding villages, and for students from local secondary schools. The meetings focused on describing the causes and symptoms of albinism, and on the social issues related to the acceptance of people with albinism and awareness of their equality with other people. The volunteer also conducted seminars for secondary school students on issues of first-aid provision.

The project activities aimed to achieve a number of Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 1, to end poverty in all its forms everywhere; Goal 2, to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; Goal 3, to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; Goal 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; and Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

"Caring for life" - health education of the population from Bugisi Mission area and medical care of the Children and Youth from the Albino Center in Buhangija

The children and adolescents living at the Buhangija Centre (approximately 360 albino, 69 blind and 40 deaf children) were provided with medical care.

The volunteer conducted six educational meetings for about 250 participants from the villages located within the outreach of the Bugisi Mission, at which she discussed issues related to albinism.

As a result of the three first-aid courses the volunteer organised, the number of secondary school students of the Bugisi Mission able to provide such assistance increased. More than 100 people completed the courses.