A Place to Belong – Dalali’s Story

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Home is supposed to be a safe place, a place to belong, a place to matter. It’s the place and people we love to come back to, especially when celebrating holidays. But last time Dalali went home he felt anything but safe. When Dalali arrived home for the holidays instead of finding a place to belong, he sadly discovered that he was the one being ostracized. Strangers were living in his home. All his things had been thrown out, and those living there chased him from the house.

After his mom had died, the relatives had taken over the house and rented it out. Dalali found that there was no place for him anymore.

Rejection and Exclusion
Dalali’s sense of rejection started from a young age. The relatives of his father did not accept his albinism. They tried to convince his father that his five children with albinism were a curse and that he should not provide for them. His father began to drink, become abusive, and stay away from home more and more.

When Dalali was just six years old his mom and younger sister were away at a distant funeral. During that time his father mostly left him and his siblings to fend for themselves. They sometimes had to beg neighbours for food or scrounge for anything they could find to eat. There were days that they only had one meal.

As a result, Dalali’s four-year-old brother Bariki, who also had albinism, started to get very sick. When Dalali pleaded for his dad to take him to the hospital, his dad did not come. He alerted the neighbours but no one would help. Dalali tried to do what he could – what his parents were supposed to do – but it didn’t make his brother better. A few days later little Bariki died.

Shortly after the funeral, his father left him and his family for good.

Dalali’s sense of exclusion extended far beyond his home life. In his village, he remembers regularly being called names like “zeru zeru” (meaning ghost) and white goat. He wasn’t able to walk down the street without people yelling at him or running to hide. His older brother and sister were made fun of at school and beaten regularly. Dalali became so fearful that he decided to not even go to school.

Eventually, attacks against people with albinism became rampant in his region of Tanzania. He had to leave his home and go to a Government boarding center full of other kids like him, because of the killings.

After primary school, Dalali got to come back home for the first time. By then his dad had died and his mother was very sick. He wasn’t sure how or where he could continue going to school. That’s when Under The Same Sun heard about him and offered him an education scholarship at an inclusive boarding school. His mom proudly sent him off to his new school, but she knew it would be the last time she saw him. Dalali remembers her parting advice. She told him to take the UTSS staff as his parents. And she told him to work hard.

Experiencing Acceptance
For the first time, Dalali found himself in a school where people understood his albinism. He received glasses and monoculars to help him see, and he found teachers who helped him and cared.  Even the other students without albinism accepted him. Instead of calling him names, many showed kindness and friendship.

Still, the news he got a month later caused him to lose all hope. His mother had passed away. He no longer felt he had anywhere to belong. It wasn’t long before Dalali attempted suicide.

Thankfully Dalali’s story didn’t end at his suicide attempt. Through counselling and care from the UTSS team, Dalali began to come to terms with his story. He began to believe in himself and in his future.

Dalali with a few of his friends at Summer Camp 2019 (Dalali is second from the right)

A Place to Belong
Under The Same Sun has been able to provide Dalali with a safe place to live, a good education, counselling, and care. He is flourishing in his studies and is excited about his career. He feels included and valued.

And Dalali has become a born leader! He can regularly be seen helping others. The younger kids follow him around hanging on his every word. He gives them courage to try things they think they can’t do. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

Safe and among friends, Dalali finally gets to enjoy what so many people take for granted – having a place to belong.

Dalali is now in his third year of university where he is studying finance and economics as he works his way to his dream. Dalali dreams of becoming a great financier so he can help others. But if you ask Dalali what he wants the most, he will tell you that he wants a home; not just the four walls of a house, but a family.

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