Made to Shine
Hardson Mabonga (55) is a single parent with five kids and one of the members of our Making More Health House in Webuye, Kenya. Together with our partner Golden Age Albinism Support Program (GAASP), we created a place for five albinism social support groups that currently have 85 members comprising men, women, and children. Members meet monthly to offer mental support, share knowledge on health-related topics as well as engage in economic self-development activities, e.g., liquid soap production, poultry farming, animal husbandry, artwork, and bead making. Especially in this time of crisis, the community became an essential support for the whole town: They helped others in the protection of the COVID-19 virus by producing soap and disinfectant. The community's involvement was a great surprise to the local press, because no one would have thought that a marginalized social group could know so much about hygiene and health. Since Hardson is very engaged in these activities, we interviewed him to honor the achievements on International Albinism Awareness Day.
How do you experience living with Albinism?
H.M.: Living with Albinism is not easy, and it requires some self-confidence and control for one to pursue life as the community sees you as not a normal human being. It's challenging. Social injustices and human rights abuses are all-inclusive in the presence of a person with Albinism. It requires one with a heart to accommodate you.
Since when have you been part of the MMH community, and how would you describe the impact of your work their?
H.M.: I joined the Making More Health House in Webuye, Kenya, in October 2019. Sincerely speaking, I had never been so comfortable in my life and never thought of what I'm currently doing in changing the community perspective and attitude towards people with Albinism. There's a significant positive change that my GAASPP organization and I have done. It has created respect for humanity, and now recognition and support for the vulnerable and disabled people in this community is being felt, as it's being geared up by GAASPP, of which I'm part of this hardworking group serving and saving a life.
How would you describe your role in building an inclusive society?
H.M.: My role is to make a change, steer development, creating an enabling environment, and self-confidence and also to raise awareness for people with Albinism, together with the GAASPP group for a better society. I help to lift the vulnerable people for a better livelihood, as part of the MMH office agenda and operations.
How can other people raise awareness of Albinism?
H.M.: People can help raise awareness through sensitizing the community through church, Chief's or government forums, schools, hospitals, and through media as we are doing in GAASPP. The most important thing is to raise awareness!
How do you experience this pandemic? What needs to be done?
H.M.:This pandemic has really affected our people and especially those who are needy and food insecure. Giving support of any kind to our people will be a good idea. Thanks a lot to the MMH for their support. Hunger hit us more than the pandemic, and those of us who are needy are really hit. Support for enabling us to survive will be great.
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