Join us on our mission to help protect the vision of people with albinism in Tanzania. Ever since start, our dream has been to work with this incredibly stigmatised community. Now it is finally a reality. Our co-founder and creative director Christopher Hunt describes the project more in detail.
WHAT’S THE STORY AND REASON BEHIND THE ONE FOR ONE MISSION?
The idea came about before we started Oh My Eyes. Beginning of 2017 I was documenting a charity project run by an optical store here in Sweden. They travelled to Tanzania with their opticians and suitcases of donated glasses from customers. During this trip I noticed the huge demand for sunglasses, especially among albinos. As the opticians were focused on visual impairment there was a need that couldn’t be met. I decided to give away my pair of sunglasses I was wearing and the joy and appreciation I received was what made me want to take this further and try and make a change. Fast forward three years and we have now finally launched this project that means a lot to me.
YOU HAVE RETURNED FROM DAR ES SALAAM IN TANZANIA WHERE YOU MET WITH THE NON-PROFIT ORGANISATION TANZANIA ALBINISM SOCIETY (TAS). HOW COME YOU CHOSE TO WORK WITH THIS ORGANISATION?
TAS has a long record of working with the albino community in Tanzania. Established in 1978, it is currently representing about 16000 children and adults with albinism across the country. TAS works to advance human rights for people with albinism who experience discrimination from society on a daily basis. When reaching out to them we got a really good response and they immediately wanted to connect to hear about us and our mission.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HELP PEOPLE WITH ALBINISM WHEN IT COMES TO PROTECTING THEIR EYES?
Some of the biggest health threats facing people with albinism are sensitivity to light and the risk of developing skin cancer due to their lack of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. The inaccessibility and high cost of sun protection, including sunglasses, is a major concern. Without eye protection, this may eventually lead to cataract or even blindness. Sunglasses with UV400 lenses reduce this risk and as a result help clear their vision.
While albinos in average earn less than $0.5 a day, a pair of sunglasses with the right protection may cost up to $35, something they can’t afford. If they buy a pair, it is often without full UV protection.
WHAT STRUCK YOU THE MOST DURING THE TRIP?
It’s hard to grip the scale of discrimination people with albinism face on a daily basis. This includes both physical as well as psychological damage. Although it’s just one of many issues they face, sunglasses make a huge difference to their quality of life. As a way of recycling and finding a new life for frames just laying around in people’s drawers, we would love to be able to provide them to this extremely stigmatised community.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
When making a purchase online you will get the option to “Donate” during the checkout. If you take part, you will receive a prepaid return slip together with the order. Your used sunglasses can be sent to our offices in Stockholm using the postage box received. As a thank you, a 15% discount will be deducted from your purchase. The sunglasses, which can be of any brand, will be tested for UV400 protection before being provided to a person with albinism in Tanzania.
WHEN WILL YOU RETURN TO DONATE SUNGLASSES? CAN THE PROVIDERS FOLLOW THIS SOMEHOW TO SEE THE RESULTS?
We have actually already started providing sunglasses with full UV protection during my first trip visiting a school and a family. The first official donation programme will launch during the International Albinism Awareness day held on 11th, 12th and 13th of June 2020. This will be conducted at Kibaha Town in the Pwani Region of Tanzania, a 5-hour drive outside of Dar es Salaam. We will work with the TAS organisation to provide the sunglasses we have gathered in Sweden along with newly produced to match the number of sunglasses sold. We will keep our providers up-to-date and send detailed information about the project to show where their sunglasses have ended up, protecting the eyes of an albino in Tanzania.