King Mega – Living with albinism in Sierra Leone

Together with SLAFo, Mohamed is working on changing societal perceptions about people living with albinism through advocacy in the form of workshops and videos

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VAfrica’s Fatmata Samura sat down with Mohamed Kelfala Sesay, Programs Officer at Sierra Leone Albinism Foundation(SLAFo), journalist at Radio Mercury and national football commentator to talk about life as a person living with Albinism in Sierra Leone and their work at SLAFo. Mohamed outlined some challenges faced by people living with albinism in this interview with VAfrica.

VAfrica presenter Fatmata Samura and Mohamed K. Sesay a.k.a King Mega on set at the VAfrica studio.

According to Kids Health, Albinism is an inherited condition that leads to someone having very light skin, hair, and eyes. It happens because they have less melanin than usual in their body. Melanin gives skin, hair, and eyes their color. Except for vision problems, most people with albinism are just as healthy as anyone else.

“People living with albinism face a lot of challenges in fitting into society.

They are victims of marginalization, stigmatization which has made them vulnerable to discriminative and violent attacks because of misconceptions about the color of their skin.

Many people living with albinism have become school dropouts because of discrimination.

Many cannot get employment because of this condition, leading them to not realizing their dreams. Some find it hard to find romance because of their skin color.”

Mohamad Kelfala Sesay
Mohamed and Fatmata Samura on set at the VAfrica Studio in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Together with SLAFo, Mohamed is working on changing societal perceptions about people living with albinism through advocacy in the form of workshops and videos. “In life, accept people according to their appearance because we are all unique in our own ways. Being a person with albinism doesn’t mean you can’t do great things.” Says Mohamed.

Because of the lack of melanin in their blood, people living with albinism are prone to skin cancer. Exposure to intense ultraviolet radiation increases their risk of contracting skin cancer by 1000 fold. Unfortunately, many succumb to the disease in Sierra Leone because of the lack of dermatologists and proper treatment. The financially fortunate fly to foreign lands to get treatment, which is not the case for the majority.

Mohamed calls on the Ministry of Health and the central government to assign at least one trained dermatologist who will help in treating skin cancer in people living with albinism. He also urges the government to make sun screen easily available for persons living with albinism by either making it free or wavering import tax on sunscreen so they can import easily.

VAfrica Operations Director S’phongo presenting to Mohamed Alima Jalloh-North’s autobiaography titled Flight of a Swallow.

The Creator created all living beings equally, hence we must behave and treat each other equally regardless of our visual differences. If embraced, people living with albinism have great potential and will contribute to nation building. Everyone has the right to live a normal life despite of their physical or mental condition; they should be heard and allowed a chance to make an impact in society.

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