As an organization, Shade is in an exciting time of transition.
Up until recently, our focus was on helping people with albinism through two major initiatives: preschool classes and a young adult transitional program. Over the course of four years, these programs impacted many children with albinism at the government center where they are living. They also supported young adults who transitioned out of that center, came to live at our rented ministry base, and eventually went on to live independent lives. Although these programs were successful, the vision of Shade has always been to have a place of our own: a place of hope and holistic care for vulnerable people and people with albinism.
We are now shifting our focus to creating that vision! Land has been purchased, a well drilled, and several buildings have been erected. We launched an after-school education outreach program for the community and began reaching out to our neighbors with the love and hope of Jesus. Shade School was launched in early 2020 and we are becoming more and more established in our community.
As of now, since we have transitioned to our land (out of the government center and out of our rented base), we currently do not have children with albinism in our programs. The thought of being an organization whose mission is to serve people with albinism yet not having them as active participants in our programs was a little unsettling at first. But, we knew that the security and infrastructure were not yet in place to accommodate this vulnerable people group on our land.
Then, in prayer, Lord revealed that serving children in the community for the first phase of ministry and development on our land fell in line exactly with our goals of impacting the lives of children with albinism. If we were to create programs for children with albinism from the beginning, Shade would start to build a reputation as an “albinism organization” and actually do the opposite of what we are trying to achieve, which is to break down the stigmatization and segregation of people with albinism. If we are striving for inclusion and integration, Shade first needs to be known simply as an organization that loves everyone, serves the community, and has a quality school and programs that are attractive to the public. Once we build that reputation, then we can begin to integrate children with albinism, and it will be seen simply as an extension of loving all people equally. If we were to launch programs for people with albinism from the start, it would be much more difficult to achieve this objective.
So, although you won’t see many photos or updates containing people with albinism from Shade for now, know that this is a strategic move that, in the long run, will help us to achieve our goals of loving people with albinism and changing the mindsets of people towards them.
That being said, we are still actively working to love people with albinism in three ways. First, our Tanzanian Country Director, John Migila, has albinism, and can be an advocate for other people with albinism simply by being in his current role. As a leader, he shows the community that people with albinism can achieve and lead. When interacting with Shade School students, he is showing the next generation that people with albinism are just like anyone else, which will help shape their views as they get older. When working with the government, John is able to represent both people with albinism and Shade. Secondly, we are continuing advocacy efforts in the community through putting on Understanding Albinism seminars, which educate people and help to dispel the myths surrounding albinism. And finally, we hope to have ongoing involvement, on a small scale, at the government center for children with albinism.