Uganda (MNN) — In Uganda, people
believe that an albino child is a curse on the family.
People with albinism inherit a
combination of recessive genes that causes a lack of melanin pigment in the
skin, hair and eyes. This allows their
eyes to be easily damaged and their skin to be unusually susceptible to skin
cancer when exposed to sunlight.
Because of their appearance, their
communities often shun them, or
worse. Ritual killings of persons with
albinism are growing to crisis proportions in East Africa. To address this issue, a regional body–the Pan-African Albinism Association–was established in May to address the rights of persons with Albinism.
Reaching out to the children who
struggle with the condition fits squarely into the vision statement of Every Child Ministries. ECM's Lorella Rouster says a new ministry
opportunity to these kids developed last year during a mission trip. "We saw a boy who was an Albino, and one
of the team members noticed how he was going around with his arm up all the
time, trying to protect his eyes from the sun. She immediately took off her
sunglasses and gave them to him."
The difference that kindness made
in the boy's life was startling. ECM is
collecting sunglasses for distribution at Christmas in the northern Ugandan
areas where they're working.
Does a pair of sunglasses equate
the Gospel? It's the first step. Rouster urges people not
to underestimate the value. "It's a very significant gift for them. It's
just a way of showing them the love of Jesus, and then at the same time, we
will be telling them about Jesus and sharing with the children the reason why
He came into the world."
The Every Child Ministries
Christmas team will deliver hope and love along with the sunglasses so that these
children will understand their value in God's sight.
ECM also hopes to develop
sponsorship programs for these Albino children. With a sponsorship, says Rouster,
"This will help us to make contact with them and their families. They can go to
school and also hear the Gospel regularly."
For example, ECM's sponsored children in the Gayaza project receive educational assistance like school
fees, school supplies and uniforms, and they participate in a Saturday
meeting. The Saturday meeting includes Bible teaching, discussion of
practical life matters, a health check, a vitamin and a nutritious meal.
What it translates to is a future
of hope for a child who would otherwise grow up being ostracized and
devalued. If you'd like to help, ECM is
looking for those who can donate new or gently-used sunglasses and for those
who can get their church or other group to collect sunglasses for the
project. Click here if you want to get