Thembi Madlala
Durban - The deputy chairperson of the Albinism Society of KwaZulu-Natal (ASKN) was honoured with three symbolic gifts at a function at the Durban City Hall to commemorate International Albinism Awareness Day.

One of the gifts was a plastic plate. When she was growing up, Thembi Madlala had to eat outside - and off the same plastic plate as their dog. The discrimination from her family and others encouraged her to form and join support groups, which led to ASKN’s formation.

It has been five years since the UN declared albinism a disability.

Maxwell Kubheka, ASKN’s chairperson and host of the event, said he was delighted to be commemorating the five years since the declaration.“Before June 13, 2013, we had no identity. We did not know where we belonged, but now we do.”

Madlala was honoured for her role in the fight against violence against albinos. The other gifts she received were a trophy and a microwave.

Kubheka said the trophy symbolised Madlala who built herself up to be a winner. The microwave was for her family to heat their food.

People with albinism face various challenges with eyesight and hearing. They also cannot be exposed to the sun without protection.

Also at the function was 73-year-old Andrisina Kubheka of Ixopo. She said: “People discriminated against me. They would point fingers and some even felt sorry for me. (But) my family were supportive.”

She urged the youth, especially those with albinism, to complete their education.

A summit to discuss issues still faced by people living with albinism takes place at the Garden Court Hotel until Thursday.