A facebook user by the Elia Saikaly has moved the hearts of many after sharing the story of an albino woman from Tanzania who was attacked due to her disablity.
His Facebook post read;
I wanted to take a moment to share a very special story. One for the ages. One of the utmost resilience. One of the darkest stories I’ve ever encountered, yet through that darkness, there is a bright shining light. This is a story, a life journey, that could easily be interpreted as a story of a victim. Rather, I’d ask that as you read this that you bear with me, and choose to see it as a remarkable story of victim turned empowered.
This is the introduction and story of Mariamu – one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. And the reason I could not walk away blindly the day I met her in Tanzania back in 2016.
Imagine being asleep with your child, in your home, while pregnant, when suddenly a neighbor walks into your house with a machete and begins hacking off your arms. Once acquired, you’re left to die. This is what happened to Mariam.
Please bear with me
Mariamu was attacked during the night in Tanzania because it is believed by many, that her body parts are of financial value. A belief in the supernatural perpetuated in part by the witch doctors of Tanzania. A false belief that her body parts will bring good fortune, success and luck to the keepers of the potions concocted by these witch doctors.
I found it impossible to believe, that in 2018, these kinds of atrocities and beliefs existed. I learned that it is a disgusting reality that persons with albinism face in various regions of the African continent.
And so the Climb for Albinism was born. And in many ways, for Mariamu.
When I met her in the safe house in Tanzania, she was living under the care of the Under the Same Sun team. They supported her and provided (and continue to provide) a beautiful hand up to take control of her life. I knew then, that if I were to put this climb together, Mariamu had to be on this team. After all, the nature of attacks originate from Tanzania so what more powerful statement to make than for her to stand on the summit of Africa’s highest summit?
And so here we are. Almost two years later and Mariamu is out on her own. She earns her keep through a small business she’s running. She mops her own floors. She feeds herself. She uses her mobile phone with her tongue to update her Facebook status. She looks after her family and has chosen not to be a victim.
Mariamu flew to Dar Es Salaam to meet us earlier this month and got in front of the press to announce to the world that she would be climbing Kilimanjaro with us, without arms, never having slept in a tent, never having been subjected to extreme altitude, yet fully surrendering to the unknown, and open heartedly embracing the challenge. She’s trusting me and my team implicitly, to take care of her safety so she can, under her own power, scale the peak for all persons with albinism.
There’s that famous saying: once you’ve seen, you cannot unsee. I simply could not unsee all of this and this is my little way of doing something about it all. To do what’s right. To help make a dent in ending the atrocities. Through education and awareness and a reframing or the narrative. A bold statement led by these women for women for persons with albinism. I’m so proud to be a part of this and to be working tirelessly in the shadows as these women take their rightful place in the spotlight.
Mariamu’s story is one of many to watch for as this group of incredible women redefine possible and transform the narrative from victim to empowerment.
So proud of this woman. Can’t wait to see her on the summit this fall.