Five young albino children from the east African country of Tanzania, whose limbs were forcibly cut off as essentially good luck charms to rich people, have arrived at Shriner’s hospital in North Philadelphia this week.
The children are among thousands in the country which borders with Malawi and Burundi, where almost one in every 1,400 babies are born with albinism, compared to Europe, where the average is around one in every 20,000.
Tanzania has a far larger population of albino’s that almost anywhere else on earth.
With the help of the Global Medical Relief Fund (GMRF), a small charity based in Staten Island, New York City, the five amputees arrived at Shriner’s to begin the long process of treatment so they can live a nearly normal life. “’These children, unfortunately, had their arms amputated for the sale of their arms as, essentially, good luck charms,” Dr. Dan Zlotolow, who is working with the kids, told CBS.
“Most of what we’ll be doing for them is fitting them with prostheses,” Zlotolow said about the children whose limbs were cut off and sold to local witch doctors to be boiled into “potions” as good luck charms for the wealthy. “A couple of them, we may be doing a toe-to-hand transfer. We will be taking one of their toes and giving them something to pinch against in their hands, like a thumb”.
Speaking about Baraka Cosmas Rusambo, a six-year-old boy who she read about online, Elissa Montanti, founder of GMRF told 6 ABC, “It was like, ‘Oh my God, how do I reach this kid?’” She then began the process of tracking down Rusambo and collecting donations for other unfortunate Tanzanian albino’s who had their limbs stolen for huge profits.
“One day, I was sleeping with my mother, and there were people came in our house and told my mother to give my…” 17-year-old Kabula, one of the five children rescued, told the news outlet about how she was mutilated by intruders at the age of 12. She couldn’t finish the sentence, except to state that she spent two months in hospital recovering after the nightmarish ordeal of having her arm cut off.
Doctors hope use Baraka’s toes to create a new hand, which he will be able to use. He is joined by Kabula, Sengerema and Nkalango, who are the other rescued victims in a country whose albino numbers make up 10 percent of the population.
According to reports, 6-year-old Margareth Khamis narrowly escaped amputation, or possibly even death, in the impoverished country just this week. She was snatched from the home she shares with her mother and 3 siblings in northern Tanzania by a masked gang in the middle of the night.
Fearing that she would be hacked to death, which can lead to thousands of dollars for the unscrupulous abductors, since an entire albino body is reported to fetch in the region of $50,000, a frantic search began by residents of her village. After police heard of a man who was looking to sell a little girl for an undisclosed sum, they set up a sting operation posing as potential customers.
Luckily for Margareth, the operation worked, she was recovered unharmed and the culprit turned out to be her 44-year-old uncle, who was trying to sell her to a local witch doctor.
“After we had received the information our officers immediately put our trap and were able to arrest the man red-handed,” said Jume Bwire, the acting Tabora regional police commander. Margareth was returned unharmed into the loving arms of her mother, Joyce Mwandu, who also has albinism.
According to reports, at least 75 people have been murdered in the east African country in the last 15 years, with many more albinos being the victims of forced removal of limbs.
Although a full investigation into Margareth’s abduction will be conducted before the prosecution of her uncle and an ongoing crackdown to stop the trade of albino body parts is in effect, it is feared the incidences may increase due to the upcoming elections. Some politicians are thought to use the help of local witch doctors, or “muti,” to increase their chances of winning elections.
Reported cases of abduction and mutilations have occurred among the albino population in neighboring Malawi and Burundi, according to the United Nations. The Malawi police have been given orders to shoot anyone attacking albinos, while the Burundi albino children are protected by being housed in special accommodations.
Source: Nigel Boys