The Action of Inclusion
Sinasra is a Namibian non-profit organisation, passionately committed to empowering people living with Albinism. According to Toon Sanders, volunteer and passionate driver of Sinasra, this is much needed in a country with of the highest ratio of people living with Albinism in the World. Incredible collaborative efforts have seen great work done to assist people living with Albinism here in Namibia. The work not only assists Namibians in practical ways but has also established for Namibia, a track record of low levels of discrimination, lower than that of many other African countries, that is seeing us being invited to speak on our best practices at gatherings of Amnesty International for example.
“We visit Albino children in the North to help them in a practical way. We take sunscreen and hats. We take them to an optometrist to check their eyes because for Albino children, the degeneration of the eyes is sometimes terrible. In Tsumeb we had a girl, who had minus seventeen eyesight and she’s eleven years old, so you can imagine that she didn’t see anything, so how is it possible for a girl like that to learn? Now she has glasses that were made in South Africa because they couldn’t make it in Namibia and this is all done for free.” Says Toon who explains that, “All Albino children can go to the optometrists that are part of the Namibian Optometrist Association (NOA), and have their eyes checked and get glasses for free. Sinasra have made an arrangement with this organisation. We now have about forty optometrists throughout the country.”
“So that’s why we said okay if there is no funding we have to move on with the things we have. Donations are always welcome, but all the people who work for Sinsara do it voluntarily, nobody is paid, it’s just goodwill to people.”
This is just one of the many projects Sinasra is involved in, the most recent of their projects has been a collaborative effort to raise awareness for the plight of living with albinism. This was done through song as passionate people, young and old, came together to create ‘The Song of Hope’. Toon explains that one of the collaborators on the project was Michelle McLean-Bailey, who not only offered her voice for the introduction, “She said that’s great, I’d like to do it. So she did the introduction to a song,” but also facilitated having the children’s school choir from Michelle McLean Primary School, be part of the song. “So that’s what we did together with some of the children of the visually impaired school in Windhoek. There were very nice children who love to sing” explains Toon who adds that Dolar Yves, the Namibia-based Congolese singer, assisted the team in the composition of the lyrics. The melody was composed by Sesame Street in Holland as Toon knows someone who writes for the popular children’s television show. “I said would you like to compose a song, so they got together and made, I think, a very nice song.”
Repeated rehearsals saw the song take life. Toon explains through that being entirely dependent on donations means that to have accomplished the recording of the song was no small feat. Everything was donated. “Because we had to pick up the kids from various places and schools and bring them home safely, the company Asco Car Hire said, ‘we want to do that.’ The restaurant Nyama, offered the kids lunch after they finished the recording and the Windhoek Country Club was willing to have the recording of the music video at their premises It worked out perfectly.”
This awareness project is one of many underway by Sinasra as Toon explains, “We hand out sunglasses because light is too much, we got a very nice donation from the German Embassy for sunglasses and special glasses and for hats from FNB. We have two doctors, one at Central Hospital and they can go there always to have their skin checked because skin cancer is one of the biggest problems of people living with Albinism because they don’t have pigment.”
Toon explains that they are always looking for support for the work they do. More recently the association put together a children’s book aimed at primary school children and while it was very well received by the Ministry of Education, the book hasn’t made it’s way into classrooms because of a lack of funding. “So that’s why we said okay if there is no funding we have to move on with the things we have. Donations are always welcome, but all the people who work for Sinsara do it voluntarily, nobody is paid, it’s just goodwill to people.”
“We have the highest ratio in the world, in Namibia, of persons with Albinism. We have close to two thousand persons with albinism here, so that means one in a thousand or one in twelve hundred. Now if you compare that to countries like in Europe, there it’s one in fifteen thousand or one in twenty thousand. Even in South Africa there’s one in fifteen thousand.” says Toon.
“In a way I can say, Namibia is setting a good example, but still we see that a lot of the persons are discriminated against or they are hidden away.”
Toon explains that in Namibia, while we have the highest ratio of people living with Albinism, there is less discrimination here than in other African countries. “One of the board members was asked to come to Joburg a few weeks ago to give a presentation for Amnesty International, because they want to see what is Namibia doing different than many other countries who have organisations caring for persons with albinism.” Toon goes on to explain that in other countries, people living with Albinism face being maimed and killed. “In a way I can say, Namibia is setting a good example, but still we see that a lot of the persons are discriminated against or they are hidden away.”
Take a look at The Song of Hope here
For more information send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Kirsty Watermeyer