The plight of people with albinism in Africa is well documented, with hardship and discrimination at its core. Sadly those with the condition are at risk of alienation, prejudice and ritualistic killings due to superstitious beliefs and poor education of the communities in which they live. For people with albinism in the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) conditions are improving, albeit slowly. Special interest groups and individuals are joining the cause to raise the profile of these marginalized people and to enrich their lives.
The “White Ebony” (Blanc Ebene) project was created in 1998 to help people with albinism in the DRC. Founded by the famous Congolese wrestler Mwimba Makiese Alphonse Texas, this project is a shining light for Congolese albinos.
The profile of the project was raised considerably by the work of the famous Belgian photographer Patricia Willocq, and with the financial backing of organizations like the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF). What initially started as a fascination for Wilcoq has now translated into a passion. Her photographic series “White Ebony” received an honorable mention at the Unicef Photo of the Year Awards, and has been exhibited and published worldwide.
The GFF contributed $87,000 to the cause and thanks to this funding and the work of people like Willocq, the project has gained additional traction and has expanded to include the initiatives “White Ebony: A Vision for All” and “White Ebony: Raise up Albino Women”:
* “White Ebony: A Vision for All” aims to increase equality for school children with albinism suffering from poor eyesight and neglect at school. Already 150 children have had their eyes screened and many provided grants to attend school.
* “White Ebony: Raise up Albino Women” aims to help albino women through development of their professional skills, empowering them to earn money, live a better life and provide for their family.
It’s an exciting project that has captured widespread public attention. The hope is that through the continued efforts of people like Mwimba Texas, Patricia Wilcoq and the Gertler Family Foundation, White Ebony will continue to enrich the lives of people with albinism in the DRC.