The 'Climb for Albinism' to Raise Global Awareness and Overcome Dangerous Stigma

Thursday, September 27, 2018 General News
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Against immeasurable odds, six women from across Africa are reaching new heights while breaking the stigma of albinism, one step up at a time

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept. 27, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- On October 1st, six women with albinism

will begin to scale Mount Kilimanjaro. They will summit the continent's highest peak on October 7th representing a monumental triumph for empowerment over persecution.

The movement, "Climb for Albinism" is co-created by human rights activist, speaker and change agent, Jane Waithera, who was born with albinism and abandoned by her mother as a baby. The climb will be led by award-winning Canadian adventure filmmaker and high-altitude climber Elia Saikaly. The team's ascent will be documented and shared in 'real-time' to a global audience.

In Africa it is estimated that 1 in every 5,000 have albinism with the prevalence of albinism in Tanzania estimated to be 1 in 1,400. The hereditary condition which affects the pigmentation of the skin, hair and eyes, occurs when the body fails to produce enough melanin.

Tragically, due to myth and superstition, persons with albinism living in sub-Saharan Africa are being persecuted daily. Hundreds of attacks and killings have been reported across the continent in recent years, with Tanzania having the highest reported number of attacks and violations.

Tanzanian climber Mariam Staford, whose arms were hacked off while she slept beside her two-year-old son in 2008, believes that climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, located in Tanzania, is an opportunity to shift perspectives from victimhood to empowerment, while also raising awareness about victims of violent attacks.

"All too often persons with albinism are portrayed as victims. We plan on breaking that stereotype by doing something that's never been done before," said Saikaly, filmmaker and expedition leader. "We will demonstrate to the world that despite the hardship many of these women have faced that they are powerful, capable and inspirational role models to women around the world. Kilimanjaro has been climbed, but never quite like this."

The six women on the Climb for Albinism team are: Jane Waithera – Kenya Mariam StafordTanzania Maah Keita – Senegal Dr. Onyinye EdiNigeria Nodumo Ncomanzi – Zimbabwe Regina MarySouth Africa

All of the women taking part are visually impaired. They will each climb with a guide as they scale the 19,340-foot mountain. The entire team is comprised of over 50 Tanzanian and Kenyan support staff and 12 guides on summit night, with logistics provided by Adventure Alternative.

The climb is a cross-continental effort. It's endorsed by Under The Same Sun, A Canada-based and U.S.-registered NGO committed to ending discrimination and violence against persons with albinism. It runs advocacy, education and career programs that support social inclusion for persons with albinism in Tanzania.

"I have a dream one day that persons with albinism all across Africa will take their rightful place in every level of society and that the days of discrimination will be a faint memory. I believe this climb will powerfully show the world that this dream is possible," said Peter Ash, founder of Under The Same Sun.

Ms. Ikponwosa Ero, first UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism says: "Women with albinism often face multiple discrimination. The Climb will tell a new story of women with albinism, from one of super-victims to one of super-heroes. Once at the summit, their message will be clear to the entire region and to the whole world: that they can rise above all obstacles set before them."

Video dispatches shot and produced by Saikaly and his team will be updated online during their ascent, and the public will be able to follow the expeditions' progress and interact with the team throughout, via Facebook and Instagram including at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Schools can connect with the climbers live during the ascent at findinglife.ca.

A final documentary will be released on the next International Albinism Awareness Day; June 13th, 2019.

To learn more about the climb, to read team member bios and to support the cause, visit http://www.climbforalbinism.org.

For press inquiries to arrange an interview with a teammate, please contact the Climb for Albinism team at: joy.muruku(at)impact-africa(dot)com and Global/North American Media Contact: Colin Trethewey / Colin(at)PRmediaNow(dot)com

A collection of royalty free images from Mount Kilimanjaro is available for use at this link.

More information on albinism can be found at: http://www.undertheaamesun.org.

Ms. Ikponwosa Ero can be reached for interviews at ik.ero(at)unalbinism(dot)org.

About Expedition Leader Elia Saikaly: Award-winning adventure filmmaker Elia Saikaly has been leading expeditions around the world, most notably on Mt. Everest where he created a virtual shared experience for thousands of youth in 'real-time' from the world's tallest peak. Visit http://www.eliasaikaly.com for more on Elia and his work.

 

SOURCE Climb for Albinism



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