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Activist educates community about albinism

29 September 2021

Kwanele Mbatha. Photo by Rorisang Ramoshaba

By Hlamalani Semango

A young woman from Letlhabile in Brits, North West province, has just celebrated the third anniversary of her first awareness campaign for people with albinism around her community on August 16.

On the same date, in 2019, Kwanele Mbatha hosted an awareness campaign for people with albinism at the Letlhabile community hall. Organisations such as Sibahle National Disability Projects, Ekhaya Home of Hope, Shoprite Soup Kitchen were also part of the event, Mbatha says.

“Growing up as a person with albinism was difficult. People would call you names, others would not touch you nor play with you. At school it was worse, they would make fun of you because you can’t see clearly and you had to wear a hat all the time, says 25-year-old Mbatha.

She took it upon herself to teach people in and around her community about the conditions which people with albinism have and to also minimise the stigma, discrimination and stereotype people have.

She joined an organisation called Sibahle National Disability Projects to advocate for people with disabilities, to educate people and to minimise the stigma around people with albinism.

“Ever since I hosted my first awareness campaign for people with albinism, a lot has changed in my community, the perception of many people has changed and also the amount of help I received when hosting my second one was way beyond [expectations],” she says.

Lewis furniture store donated caps; the department of sports and recreation helped with food, Aims retail store donated sunglasses, hats and sunscreen. Mbatha says she was also pleased to meet one of the spokespersons from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

She says, “My aim is to make sure that more people get educated and get to understand that we are also human beings with feelings, talents and ambitions such as anyone in the world and we also have the right to be treated equally.”

Mbatha was not able to hold a campaign this year because of a lack of sponsorship, and difficulties associated with the third wave of the covid-19 pandemic. She told ThisAbility that she also faced personal problems which distracted her from finding alternative funders for the 2021 campaign.

Anneline Mathibe, 31, from Atteridgeville, who has albinism, is full of praises for what Mbatha has achieved.  “I am very proud of what Kwanele has done in terms of her awareness campaign and she must continue the work she does. There’s still a long way to go but the more campaigns and awareness we do the better people are going to learn and understand the condition we have,” says Mathibe.



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