Survivors Of A Horrifying Practice In Africa, These Albino Kids Are Getting A New Lease On Life

These brutal attacks have to be stopped.

Albinos are prized in traditional African communities, but the reason why is hard to stomach, to say the least.

People with albinism are thought to have magical powers, and their body parts are used in witch doctors' potions believed to bring wealth and good luck. Albino body parts can be sold for up to thousands of dollars on the black market.

In Tanzania, this practice saw attacks on eight albino individuals in the past year. 

One of the victims was 5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo, who lost his hand after a group of armed men broke into his home, knocked his mother unconscious and chopped off his hand. "We were simply sleeping when someone just arrived," Baraka said. "They came to me with machetes."

But now, Baraka and four other albino children who survived these attacks are finding refuge in the U.S. after being brought here to be fitted with prosthetic limbs.

The move was orchestrated by the Global Medical Relief Fund, an organization started by Elissa Montanti in 1997 that helps children from crisis areas get custom prostheses. Montanti read an article on Baraka's story and reached out to help him.

"They're not getting their arm back," Montanti told the Associated Press. "But they are getting something that is going help them lead a productive life and be part of society, and not be looked upon as a freak or that they are less than whole."

About one in 15,000 Tanzanians has albinism, a condition characterized by little or no production of melanin, the stuff that gives color to our hair, eyes and skin.

Albinos are a persecuted and misunderstood community, particularly regarding their unique health issues and, in Africa, the occult myths surrounding albinism.

Although the government of Tanzania outlawed witch doctors last year, the brutal attacks have not stopped. According to the BBC, 70 albino individuals have been killed in the past three years — and only 10 people have been convicted of murder.

The children have been in the U.S. since June, spending the summer with Montanti. Once they get accustomed to their new limbs, they will return home to Tanzania, to safe houses run by Canada-based group Under the Same Sun.

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