Our "Gift" Project
"Technology is rather outdated in Malawi, and hard to find so Malawians in general have a tendacy to be very trusting and believe what they see, hear or are promised". Jan Sawa
“He was tricked through Facebook”…
Just before Jan’s arrival in July 2013, this incident happened… It was brought to her attention by Elizabeth at the Gender Equality Department. (Social Services) Truthfully, she is the one that steered the Mwana Mission Project to our location in Mpemba, Blantyre, Malawi. She was elated to be able to have a future with us, and knows where the greatest needs are in the Southern Region of Malawi. We will take Johane on after we have solidified our building complex.
On June 3, 2013, a twenty year-old Yohane Kamwendo from Machinjiri, Blantyre escaped his traffickers in Zambia after learning that he was trafficked and not taken to be employed as promised earlier. Yohane said he learned that he was trafficked from a guard at a certain place in Chipata where he was held, innocently waiting for a boss to come and tell him his job description.
He said to the guard “I come from Blantyre. I found myself in Zambia after a friend I met two weeks ago on Facebook”. “He told me that there was job opportunity in Zambia with good pay and that I could go there without a passport because he had already arranged for that,” Johane said it took the guard’s mercy, and the protection from God, through him (the guard), at a place he was kept to inform him, there was no job for him there, and that when albinos arrive at “that place” “they never come back because they are sold somewhere or some fishy business happens to them because when they enter the house they never come back”.
Yohane explained his horrific ordeal at the Mchinji Information Office (Police Station) “I never thought that this “new friend” was going to sell me or my body parts to the place we went to. He just told me to wait outside as he went to meet the boss. It was the guard at that place who told me that I was up for sale because I’m an albino and he told me to escape”. The guard gave him K1,200.00 ($3.50) to escape and use routes which he couldn’t be traced because they would come looking for him and it would be a horrible disaster. All praise to God our Savior
Yohane said, he first met “Mr. Banda” in Blantyre two days after they became friends on Facebook. “Mr. Banda” told him of a great employment deal in Zambia.
Unfortunately he fell for the trap because he shared with the man that he was struggling to raise fees for his studies and his family members showed no interest in helping him because of the albinism. “I feel neglected by my family members, for no apparent reason they feel nothing for me, I decided to do things on my own and that’s why I decided to try the Zambian deal with this “new friend” I met on Facebook”. “I was so excited and my parents wanted me to go”.
Johane spent a night at Mchinji Police Victim Support Unit and Mchinji, and a private social organization provided transport to Kamwendo back to Blantyre where he will be staying.
Human trafficking poses a major threat to Malawi as most trafficked people do so knowingly with the hope that they will find success. Sadly, parents’ consent the trafficking of their children due to poverty.
Meet Gift Banda... he is our inspiration and
love for the Malawian albino community!
It started in 2009. A precious little boy named, Jr. walked into our guest house came into our rooms and was viewing all the "goodies" we brought from the States....within minutes. his older brother, an embarassed and shy albino boy named Gift, also came in. After seeing all the goodies from the USA... Jr was not leaving until he left with something he had his eye on... a matchbox car! We welcomed them into our abode... when in came their father, an employee of the guest house. He was mortified and we assured him that it was ok.
A fine time for Heidi and Jan to have a "Malawi Mardi Gras" ...throwing out toys, games and coloring books for all the employee children and the mass of friends they had in the village... Even more fun is getting in the van going out to the country sharing the goodies we brought for the children...especially bouncy balls.
The albino boy, Gift Banda was so humble and it was difficult to get him to utter a word. His eyes were pink, he had sores on his mouth, his arms and legs. He held his coloring book almost to his nose, because of his very poor vision. It was right then and there we knew he was" gifted to us" and we, the Mwana Mission Project, took on Gift Banda.
We gave Gift glasses, SPF cream, SPF lip balm, antibiotic cream, sunglasses, floppy hats and clothes to cover him to protect his fragile body from the ultra violet rays. His school teacher came to the family home and complimented how much improvement in school he had made, in just a matter of days with his new glasses. Thanks in part to all our friends and churh family throw-a-way glasses we brought in our bags.
Without phones, but a little footwork, talk in the villages, some "bicycle trekking" there are many more albinos that heard there were free glasses. Thank-you Gift for opening up to us, The Mwana Mission Project is committed to helping as many albinos as possible in the Blantyre City region.
Gift is fortunate that he is also being sponsored for his education, and continued education. He wants more than anything to be college educated and not be a "Taboo". There is more information and stories on the Gift Project.
"Malawian Man Escapes Traffiker"
The Johane Kamwendo Story
What is Albinism?
Albinism is caused by a mutation in one of several genes. Each of these genes provides instructions for making one of several proteins involved in the production of melanin. Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes, which are found in your skin and eyes. A mutation may result in no melanin at all or a significant decline in the amount of melanin.
In some types of albinism, a person must inherit two copies of a mutated gene, one from each parent in order to have albinism (recessive inheritance).
Impact on eye development
Regardless of which gene mutation is present, vision impairment is a key feature of all types of albinism. These impairments are caused by irregular development of the optic nerve pathways from the eye to the brain and from abnormal development of the retina.
Types of albinism
Types of albinism, based mainly on which mutated gene caused the disorder, include:
Oculocutaneous albinism. Oculocutaneous (ok-u-low-ku-TAY-nee-us) albinism is caused by a mutation in one of four genes. People with oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) type 1 have milky white skin, white hair and blue eyes at birth. Some people with OCA type 1 never experience an increase in pigmentation, but others begin to produce melanin during early childhood. Their hair may become a golden blond, brown or red, and their irises may change color and lose some translucence.
OCA type 2.... is most common in sub-Saharan Africans, African-Americans and Native Americans. The hair may be yellow, auburn, ginger or red, the eyes can be blue-gray or tan, and the skin is white at birth. With sun exposure, the skin may, over time, develop freckles, moles or lentigines.
People with OCA type 3, mainly found in black South Africans, usually have reddish-brown skin, ginger or reddish hair, and hazel or brown eyes. OCA type 4 looks similar to type 2 and is most often found in people of East Asian descent.
X-linked ocular albinism. The cause of X-linked ocular albinism, which occurs almost exclusively in males, is a gene mutation on the X chromosome. People who have ocular albinism have vision problems, but their skin, hair and eye color are generally in the normal range or slightly lighter than that of others in the family.
She... is considered demonic.
He... was abused
They... are perceived as outcasts.
She... was maimed
for her body parts!
He... is deaf and shunned
in God's sight!