Courageous Perseverance – Emmanuel’s Story

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Emmanuel spoke softly as he shared his story with UTSS staff when he was 5 years old. By that time, he had already nearly lost his life to merciless attackers who had wanted to sell his body parts for witchcraft practices.

The innocence of Emmanuel’s tender age was of no thought to the machete-wielding criminals who had attacked him that night. After the horrific assault, Emmanuel was left missing half of his left arm, and his right hand was just two stubs. The assailants cracked his jaw with a machete and hammered out as many teeth as they could. It was the screams of terror and grief from Emmanuel’s mother and sister that scared off the goons and saved his life.

It’s hard to imagine the physical agony Emmanuel experienced that night. It’s even harder to understand the emotional and mental anguish he has lived with since. You may think that the retelling of this atrocious crime is a rare happening in Emmanuel’s region of Tanzania. The truth is, stories like Emmanuel’s are far too common.

Beautiful Potential

From a family of seven children, he was the only one born with albinism. For his safety after the attack the family brought him to a remote rural boarding school for children with disabilities. Emmanuel was now very far from his family, his community, and his friends. He was cut off and afraid to ever go back home, lest the attackers, still at large, would return to finish him off.

Emmanuel displayed a love for writing and drawing, even though he had no functional hands to hold a pencil. With great deliberateness and determination, Emmanuel would grasp a marker under his arm pit and tilt his torso at just the right angle to write. In fact, he penned a beautiful note for Peter Ash, founder and CEO of Under The Same Sun, welcoming Peter to his home. Peter was moved to tears. The note still hangs in his office to this day.

Two years after Emmanuel initially shared his story, a spot was provided for him in the UTSS Education Program. He began attending a high-quality school where they understood his albinism and gave him the low vision help to succeed. He began excelling in his classes almost immediately.

Emmanuel has been maintaining a steady A average and did very well in the national exams!

Help to Move Forward

With the aid of some generous partners at Global Medical Relief Fund, Emmanuel has been able to obtain a prosthetic left arm and has undergone various surgeries to have two functioning digits for his right hand.

Emmanuel’s latest surgery was a success and for the first time since his attack, he can grasp things with his right hand. Thanks to professional trauma counselling he is also beginning to find emotional healing.

Emmanuel is now 18 years old and thriving. He was able to go home for the first time over Christmas of last year as his parents had moved and are currently living in a different area from where the attack took place. Through our Family Reunification program, staff have educated the village and security personnel on albinism, so that Emmanuel will be safe in his new environment. His younger brother is helping to take proper care of him with his prosthetic limbs.

Emmanuel is also in the career program, where staff offer him counsel as he makes career choices. He is now considering a business profession as his father has given him a plot of land to manage. In true “Emmanuel fashion” he vigorously continues to persevere through all the challenges he has faced.

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