Asante sana | ou les enfants oubliés de Lamadi
In Tanzania, especially in rural areas, people with albinism (PWA) are considered not to be human. Deep-rooted superstitions lead to widespread practices of so-called witch doctors who use body parts of PWA in potions. People believe that these potions bring success and good fortune. Because of these practices, PWA are persecuted, attacked and killed.
In rural Lamadi, Sister Helena has created a safe haven, the Mary Mother of God center. Here, children with albinism and other rejected children, can live in a safe environment. Sister Helena is a force of nature, filled with love and determination. Because she is a woman of faith, she is accepted by the community. If not, she would have surely been ostracized (or worse) because of caring for children with albinism.
When we arrived there after a long journey we were greeted by singing voices to welcome us. Angelic voices from behind the biggest concrete wall and thickest, largest steel door I have ever seen. To keep them safe. We spent the day there, and all they wanted to do was cuddle and be hugged. They have such a need to be loved. I felt very sad when we left, wishing I could have stayed longer.
The transformation of color in some of the images in this project illustrates how people with albinism are considered "gosts", non-human, feared and rejected because of their skin color.
Our perception of skin color permeates everything, not only in Western society but everywhere around the world. Somehow we seem unable to look past it. Changing the color paradigm in these photos shows the superficiality of color and its intrinsic irrelevance.
NB - Asante sana means thank you in Swahili and is the refrain of the song the children sang for us.