Clean water and security for sisters with albinism

Posted on October 25, 2017

Two girls with albinism carrying buckets of water on their head

Imagine having to face fear and persecution- just to find water. Unfortunately,  this is a reality for some. Seventeen-year-old Eneless Mnyanya and her nineteen-year-old sister, Onisha, are from a village in Phalombe District, Malawi, and both have albinism.

Persecution in Malawi for people with albinism

In parts of Malawi, cultural beliefs persist around people with albinism, which is an inherited genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair and/or eyes.

Many people in Phalombe District believe the body parts of people with this condition can be used in rituals to become rich. As a result of these beliefs, people who have the condition are subjected to abductions and murder.

The violence towards people with albinism affected these two sisters’ lives, especially while collecting water. Before, their village lacked a water supply and they had to make a 1.5km journey to fetch water from an unhygienic well. Because of the danger of being abducted and killed for their body parts, they couldn’t risk the longer journey to a well with clean water.

The girls often were late to school or missed it altogether because of the dangers they faced. They had to wait until it was light enough to make the journey to the well.  This caused them to fall behind their classmates and have to repeat grades at school.

Safe Water Close to Home

By working with our Malawian partner NGO, United Purpose, and the local district council, we were able to restore a safe and clean water supply directly to the village. Now, the girls have a water source close to their house, meaning they don’t have to make the dangerous journey or miss school.

“With the rehabilitated tap I am now able to go to school on time and I have improved as I no longer repeat classes,” explained Eneless.

The girls’ mother, Alice, also has peace of mind now that the water source has been restored.

“I used to fear for my children’s lives before the tap was rehabilitated. Now I am very happy that my two little girls are safe,” said Alice.

Girl with albinism getting water from the new village well

United Purpose Continues to Help

In Phalombe District, 74 people have albinism, of which 4 have been reported killed. United Purpose has  been working with local police forces on how to respond to and document cases of abduction and murder.

They are also working with local councils to raise awareness and advocate for the rights of people with albinism – trying to destroy the stigma and making their lives safer.

You can help to bring clean water to Malawi and protect people with albinism by making a tax-deductible donation today.