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NGO started to raise awareness around albinism

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The team members of Ucan are Siphokazi Magwa (secretary), Sonele Ntsundwana (marketing and communications manager), Siphenati Mayekiso (project and programme manager), Luzuko Booi (treasurer), Sylvia Mama (chair) and Andile Ntame (vice-chair).
The team members of Ucan are Siphokazi Magwa (secretary), Sonele Ntsundwana (marketing and communications manager), Siphenati Mayekiso (project and programme manager), Luzuko Booi (treasurer), Sylvia Mama (chair) and Andile Ntame (vice-chair).

A new non-government organisation (NGO) based in Parow is determined to change the perception around albinism.

The organisation, Universal Change for Albinism Nobles (Ucan), started in February this year and is chaired by Sylvia Mama.

“I was approached by people with albinism in the Western Cape to assist with this, my second organisation, and here we are this year,” she says.

Sylvia says the idea behind the NGO is to raise awareness about the condition of albinism.

“I guess the story of Gabisile Shobane, a 13-year-old girl in Witbank who was killed for her body parts in 2018, raised an alarm to me that people with albinism, like me, are still not safe in black townships. This happened in our country, not in foreign countries. So there is a need for us to voice out the inequality happening around us,” Sylvia explains.

The people involved are all persons with albinism.

“We intend to stretch our boundaries around South Africa in the future. That is why we are a universal organisation. Apart from visiting communities to clean and uplift the standards of old buildings including government owned buildings, we intend to conduct workshops at schools, churches, workplaces and social media platforms,” she says.

The NGO will also aim to alleviate the stress of unemployment by paying a minimum of R100 to its volunteers and to some of its beneficiaries to travel from, and to their homes, Sylvia says.

On Wednesday 27 April the NGO will be starting with its new project, Ucan Community Intervention Project (Ucip).

“We will be assisting with cleaning the streets of Parow. We intend to start with the railway area where I am staying and running the office from my home. The day is a day of breaking the ice introducing ourselves to the public. People need to know that we are here to stay.

“We want to be accepted and be treated like the next pigmented person. We want the South African government to take note that we need to be recognized as persons who can earn a living like everyone else. We need to build careers in media, television, in sport and find employment in government and private companies.

“We want our children to receive inclusive education, not only locked in special schools for the rest of their lives while there is no special university. The current situation does not allow our children with albinism to have high self-esteem. They have to grow up exactly like the way we grew up with limited access to everything. We believe the time for change is now,” says Sylvia.

  • To get involved call Sylvia on 073 842 7417 or email sylviamama45@gmail.com.
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