SRF’s partnership in Tanzania raises the profile of people with impaired vision and albinism

Medlemmar från SRF och TAS står i vitakäppenparaden med sina vita käppar uppsträckta i luften.

In November, the TLB – Tanzania League of the Blind turned 50 years old. The SRF – Swedish Federation for the Visually Impaired, which has been working with TLB for almost 30 years, was on hand to take part in the celebrations.

Also attending were Tanzania’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, as well as representatives of Tanzania’s Prime Minister, regional authorities and other voluntary organisations. The celebrations began with a white stick parade that involved several hundred people marching to drumming, dancing and singing, raising their sticks in the air.

Afterwards, everyone gathered on Nyerere Square in the heart of Dodoma, Tanzania’s official capital. Here, the festivities continued with entertainment, displays and speeches. SRF passed on the organisation’s congratulations, expressing pride in their long partnership as they continue to fight together for greater rights.

– We’re honoured to be celebrating this milestone with TLB, which has developed both nationally and locally over the years. Today they are a knowledgeable, strong and prominent organisation, with excellent commitment from their members, as the anniversary commemorations have clearly shown, says Elvira Kivi of SRF.

TAS named Tanzania’s leading advocacy organisation

SRF’s other partner organisation in Tanzania, TAS – the Tanzania Albinism Society, has achieved major success recently. TAS is an organisation by and for persons with albinism, a group in Tanzania who suffer a great deal of stigma and violence. Persons with albinism are also particularly susceptible to skin cancer.

Since the partnership with SRF began around 20 years ago, TAS has become increasingly well established as an organisation and in recent years they have achieved a wealth of media coverage for their issues. In 2014, Tanzania’s Foundation for Civil Society named TAS Tanzania’s leading advocacy organisation. They have succeeded in influencing both national and regional policy in Tanzania. In addition, the UN has announced an international day for persons with albinism, which will fall on 13 June.

Swedish Embassy positive about partnership

During their visit to Tanzania, SRF visited the Swedish Embassy in Dar es Salaam, accompanied by their partner organisations TLB and TAS.

TLB and TAS work jointly to make local decision-makers, headteachers, teachers and not least parents aware of how important it is for children with impaired vision and albinism to go to school. As a consequence of the project and the organisations’ work, a total of around 30 children started school in 2013–2014. However, considerable challenges remain concerning resources, understanding and acceptance.

At the Embassy, the organisations met Rebecka Alffram, who works on educational issues. She shares the view that the conditions should be created for children with disabilities to be including in schooling. Rebecka Alffram praised the extensive know-how that TLB and TAS have to offer, and was positive about a future collaboration.

Lina Jakobsson