Since June, five Tanzanian children with albinism have been staying in New York City after suffering forced amputations in their home country. Now outfitted with prosthetic limbs, one of them, Kabula Nkarango Masanja, aged 17, is the first to return home.
Albinism is a genetic condition that results in little to no pigment production in the skin, hair, and/or eyes. In Tanzania, people with albinism are hunted as their severed body parts are believed to bring wealth and good luck if used in a witchdoctor’s potions.
Masanja and four other children, aged 5 to 17, were brought into the country by Elissa Montanti, who connected them with doctors at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. The doctors have been working on crafting artificial limbs for the children.
The near-white, ghost-like appearance of those with albinism is the reason their limbs are prized by witchdoctors. Some children are even sold out by their parents, believing them to be cursed. Eight “harvesting” attacks have been reported in the past year in Tanzania and to date, more than 200 witchdoctors have been arrested, along with various accomplices. Wealthy merchants, businessmen, and ambitious politicians pay up to $75,000 USD for the potions.
Almost any body part has a use. Tanzanians with albinism have been attacked for their hair, nails, teeth, tongues, hands, feet, and genitalia.
Despite the horrors they have been subjected to, the children remain upbeat. They laugh, play cards, sing songs, and master their new artificial limbs. Masanja has been studying for a school exam she will be taking upon her return to Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian capital. She wants to be a human rights lawyer.
Masanja boarded a flight to Tanzania on Tuesday at Kennedy airport. The other children will be returning home in September. All will return in 2016 to be fitted with new prostheses to match their growth.
Source for Today’s Article:
“1st of Tanzanian Albino Kids with Missing Limbs Goes Home,” FOX News web site, September 4, 2015; http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/09/04/1st-tanzanian-albino-kids-with-missing-limbs-goes-home/.