To commemorate International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD), Albinism Advocacy Access (AAA) will today launch a campaign aimed at instilling confidence in secondary school learners with albinism.
The #ICanBe campaign -- to be launched at Freedom Park in Salvokop, Pretoria -- will bring professionals with albinism together with learners with albinism in and around Gauteng, where learners will share their experiences and challenges.
AAA founder Mpho Tjope said the depiction of albinism in popular culture, especially in the media, has been asserted by albinism organisations and others as largely negative and has raised concerns that people with albinism are unable to "do for themselves".
"This, combined with teasing, negative myths and perceptions about albinism, is why we believe we have many learners with albinism who drop out of school and some attempt to commit suicide," Tjope said.
Tjope said the campaign aims to promote an environment where learners are able to share their challenges and take away the truth that regardless of where they are, they can succeed.
"Albinism does not mean inability and we believe that this program will produce learners who are able to finish matric and in years, graduate. We are receiving a lot of positive feedback from students with albinism in different institutions of higher learning, who also want to assist learners in guidance.
"I am positive that if this program is properly supported, it can raise an army of empowered people who are able to contribute to the economy, be independent and take care of themselves."
Tjope said AAA will also push to get many learners into existing programs, including Take a girl child to work, Isibindi and youth activation, amongst others.
"We will push for learners to get eye testing and glasses, speak to their schools so that teachers and other learners understand albinism better, and therefore decrease the chances of the learner dropping out. We are [currently] knocking on companies and institutions' doors that give bursaries to accommodate learners who [perform] well," Tjope explained.
IAAD is celebrated annually on 13 June to celebrate the human rights of persons with albinism worldwide.
This year's IAAD will be celebrated under the theme 'Still Standing Strong'. The theme has been chosen to recognise, celebrate and encourage strength in people with albinism.