Societal ignorance about the condition, as well as long-standing beliefs associated with witchcraft, lead to the dehumanization of people with albinism. It is widely believed that the body parts of people with albinism, used by witch doctors in magical charms and potions, bring wealth, health and good luck. This leads to brutal attacks resulting in maiming, death and the black market trafficking of albino body parts.
Since 2006, more than 300 attacks have been recorded in 25 countries, and likely many more have gone unrecorded.
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Who we are
Founder & CEO, Peter Ash, is also a person with albinism. Peter is a passionate philanthropist and entrepreneur. He holds an undergraduate degree in Theology and a graduate degree in psychology. His background includes a decade of work in church ministry followed by over a decade in business. As a result of Peter's faith, disability and business background, his heart compels him to do whatever he can to provide resources and assistance to those most disadvantaged by disability, discrimination and poverty. His primary focus has beome the human rights and wellbeing of Persons With Albinism (PWA) in Tanzania, Africa and worldwide. UTSS aims to provide these groups of persons with resources that will help them to increase their quality of life, gain increased independence and take their rightful place in their own culture and society. Peter has received multiple humanitarian awards for his service including: The President's Call to Service Award; The Companionate of Merit Award; The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal; The New England College of Optometry Presidential Medal; The V-Award by Southern California College of Optrometry, and The British Columbia Community Achievement Award. Assisting Peter in this endeavor is his brother Paul Ash (also with albinism) who resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, as well as his longstanding friend, Don Sawatzky, who lives in Langley, B.C., Canada.
Our amazing Tanzanian team makes up 2 well-staffed departments to help achieve its goals. The departments are:
1 - Our Education Program (EP - formerly ESF) is the UTSS flagship, offering comprehensive education funding to keen and dedicated students with albinism demonstrating a need for financial or other schooling assistance. Beneficiaries are exposed to a high quality, inclusive education experience in primary, secondary and all levels of higher learning up to graduate studies. Due to the multiple attacks against PWA in Tanzania, hundreds of children were herded into numerous government boarding schools throughout the country for “safe keeping”. The extreme overcrowding, poor living conditions and abuse in the government schools compelled UTSS to relocate hundreds of these “displaced children” into higher quality private boarding schools. The EP also covers personal expenses, school supplies and uniforms for all students along with any needed medical services including regular dermatology & optometry examinations. We also ensuring that they have protective gear including sun protective clothing, sunscreen lotion and low vision devices. These students will be future models within their own society of what PWA can be when given an opportunity. They are the strongest voice against discrimination and the most powerful message about the humanity, dignity and capability of PWA; educating and advocating their own culture towards change.
2 - Our Advocacy and Public Awareness (APA) program educates the public using all forms of media, both nationally and internationally, including at the African Union and at the UN where we are an accredited non-government organization. We constantly inform about albinism, disseminating information on health and offering genetic truths to diffuse existing myths about albinism that often lead to dehumanizing stigma and discrimination used by witchdoctors and their clients to justify the macabre killings of PWA. APA informs about human rights violations by investigating, collecting and publishing data about the atrocities against PWA. There is also a strong emphasis on the domestic understanding of albinism with simple, de-mythologizing messages about human dignity and respect, focusing on simple genetic & medical explanations, offering easy ways to live with and care for the condition. Additionally, our Tanzanian office frequently blitzes various parts of the country with Understanding Albinism (UA) seminars. These “in-person” encounters, where our PWA staff teaches their fellow citizens about albinism, helps humanize and normalize the issue. It is a highly interactive event with the audience where hearts and minds are enlightened and positive social change regularly occurs. We target both rural and urban centers including government agencies, hospitals, schools & universities, workplace environments, religious groups, police departments, village elders, family members, neighbours and friends.
Friends of UTSS
Dr. Rebecca Kammer
UTSS cannot put into words our gratitude for the gift that Dr. Kammer (Becky) has given to people with albinism in Tanzania. She has tirelessly offered Low Vision Clinics, met with every student in our Education Program and provided glasses and other low vision devices. This will profoundly change their educational experience, their lives and ultimately the discriminatory attitudes against albinism in Tanzanian culture.
Albinism Fellowship of Australia
The Albinism Fellowship of Australia (AFA) is a national, non-profit organization established in 2005. The fellowship is run by volunteers who all have been personally touched by albinism in some way.The AFA’s key purpose is to provide support, education and fellowship to those with albinism, parents of children with albinism as well as their families and friends. While the albinism community in Australia is only small, the AFA provides a united voice to encourage productive developments and support within business, government and media.
The Canadian High Commission in Tanzania
The Canadian High Commission in Dar es Salaam generously donated $20,000 to help launch the UTSS Radio Campaign Project.
Discover Albinism Uganda
Discover Albinism Uganda is a U.S. based nonprofit working with the Uganda Albino's Association to end descrimination agains persons with albinism.
Express Lens Lab
UTSS is eternally grateful to Brian Goldstone and his company, Express Lens Lab, for the generous supply of optical lenses to meet the low vision needs of persons with albinism in Tanzania. This will profoundly change the educational experience of the students with albinism in our Education Scholarship Fund program. As education changes their lives, the discriminatory attitudes of their fellow countrymen will be challenged, as will the role of persons with albinism in Tanzanian culture.