Parents have been advised to provide adequate sun protection for their albino children due to their lack of Melanie which may put them at high risk. The co-founder of Onome Akinlolu Majaro (OAM) Foundation, Onome Okagbare-Majaro, gave the advice during the foundation’s fourth anniversary in Lagos. Albinism is the result of heritable mutations that lead to defective melanocytes, unable to properly synthesise melanin and to distribute it through dermal tissues, making persons with albinism vulnerable to the harmful effect of the ultra-violet rays (UVR) from the sun.
To mitigate the effect of this syndrome, the non-governmental organisation provided free sun screens for 58 albino children. This, according to Okagbare-Majaro, is in line with the anniversary’s theme: ‘Protecting our children.’ “We need to show extra love to an albino child. That is why we are giving out sun screens to 58 kids because the greatest enemy of your albino child is the sun. If you can protect your child from the sun and you show your child love, the sky is the child’s limit.”
According to her, her mother, Rita Okagbare, built her self-confidence by adopting an extraordinary approach to prepare her for discrimination and stigmatisation against albinism in Nigeria. “My mum thought me to be self-confidence. She would called me name Oyibo, albino, Afin. She would tell me that she was calling me all these names so that when I hear it outside, it wouldn’t bother you again. Sometimes, she would stand in front of me and asked, ‘Can you see?’ All this might not work for every child, but it worked for me. My parent spoilt me with love and told me that the only difference is the colour of my skin, which is because I did not have Melanie.”
She, therefore, urged people to change the perception about people living with albinism (PWAs), lamenting that albinos have been subjected to various inhuman treatments, discrimination from jobs, education, and social activities, and in some extreme cases targeted for rituals in some environments in Southern and Eastern Africa.
“How many PWAs are doing nine to five jobs? How many are in good relationships? How many are doing well in schools? Teachers need to understand that albinos cannot see the board clearly. We need to sit close to the board. So, teachers need to be patient with us,” Okagbare-Majaro, a mother of two, said.