By Branton Matondo
The scarcity of sunscreen lotion in Honde Valley has led to the interest group resorting to lemons mixed with aloe plant as a remedy against complications brought about by sun exposure.
Albinism is a common skin impairment characterized by congenital lack of melanin pigmentation in the skin, eyes, and hair or feathers.
While talking to Post On Sunday Newspaper in Honde Valley, 53 year old Memory Barara, who has skin impairment said the situation in Honde Valley is dire when it comes to sourcing sunscreen lotion.
“Here in Honde Valley, we are facing a dire challenge when it comes to accessing sunscreen lotion. There are a lot of organisations and community leaders that come to collect our details on a number of occasions as people with albinism but we haven’t received any assistance. It’s just names on a piece of paper but at the end of the day we receive nothing.”
In sheer display of emotion Barara confirmed that people with skin impairment have resorted to the use of lemons, a here say remedy that is supposedly meant to act as sunscreen.
“Since we do not have sunscreen lotion we have restored to the use of lemons. We squeeze the juice and rub it on the skin hoping that it will work but it doesn’t work. The use of lemons is a desperate measure that we take because we don’t even know if it works or not, it’s just a here say remedy.”
An inquiry done by this publication indicated that lemons have no remedial value when it comes to protecting skin from sunburns.
Barara added that in most cases people with albinism walk long distances in search of alovera plants which is also said to be remedies for sunburn.
“Most of the times we walk long distances in search of alovera plants also known as gavakava. We mix it with lemons hoping that it works, but it doesn’t. It’s even much worse during this time of summer where the sun is scorching.”
Manicaland Albinism Association (MAA) Director Nyaradzai Mazaiwana told this publication that the organization under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has assisted schools across Manicaland in terms of supplying necessary tool kits to assist young children.
“We have been working closely with the ministry to assist children with albinism. In case of Honde Valley we have also assisted young children from that side. There are exceptions when it comes to adults but l can confirm that the supply of sunscreen kits has been evident across Manicaland.”
She added that the failure of other people to receive sunscreen lotions is due to the information gap. Netone has also been helping the less privileged to access lotions.
“Some people will fail to receive information on the distribution of sunscreen, it happens but as an alternative people with albinism should have alovera, and wear long clothing.”
Tariro Foundation of Zimbabwe Trust Director Godfrey Dzveta said the use of lemons to avoid sun damage is questionable.
“On the issue of lemons I have no adequate information on the effectiveness in preventing the skin from sun damage. Research need to be done on this.”
He added the organization has made strides to assist people with albinism in Manicaland.
“Tariro Foundation of Zimbabwe Trust is mobilising sunscreen lotions from well wishers in the corporate sector and individuals who need to provide sunscreen lotions to those in need. Trainings to produce low cost sunscreen lotions to marginalized communities is also an intervention we are undertaking to ensure sustainable provision of sunscreen lotions in the rural areas where financial resources are a limiting factor.”
About 70,000 people in Zimbabwe are affected by albinism.
Apart from physical challenges they also fall victim to verbal abuse, continuous staring, and mockery through whistling, denigrating statements and prejudice. Barara affirmed how people, government and organisations belittle them.
International Albinism Awareness Day is slated for 13 June every year.