DRC: Diocese of Lisala organises the first-ever gathering of persons with albinism.
Stanislas Kambashi, SJ - Vatican City with Jean-Baptiste Malenge, OMI -Kinshasa, DRC.
Last week, in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Diocese of Lisala, the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission brought together persons with albinism.
Full integration of the albinism community.
For the first time ever, the main hall of the University of Lisala was filled with men and women, adults and children -all persons with albinism (PWA). Participants came from all over the province’s three territories of Bumba, Bongandanga and Lisala. The meeting was intended to lead to greater participation and the integration of PWA in the Church and community.
The city of Lisala is the capital of the Mongala Province in the northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congo River flows through the town.
The meeting was the initiative of the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission in conjunction with the Council for the Apostolate of the Catholic Laity in Congo. At the meeting, the right of persons with albinism to organise was re-affirmed.
Eradicating stigma in society
Faustin Onombili spoke to the importance and right of PWA to seek acceptance, support and fellowship in the Church and in wider society. He encouraged PWA to freely advocate and voice their concerns within the Catholic lay structures.
Remy Egwembe and Jean Remy Elemba, speaking on behalf of persons with albinism, explained the need for an affirmed identity and educating society about their condition. Albinism, they said, was not who they were but the condition they lived with. It is dehumanising when the community looks only at their skin condition, forgetting their uniqueness as persons.
The albinism community has since called for eradicating stigma and re-echoed the need to be empowered and recognised as dignified and full members of society.