ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A team of fifth graders has taken on a community service project to do something to help a group of people that most American kids don’t think about often. The albinos of Africa are ostracized, tortured and killed because they are different, but the class at Edward Gonzales Elementary hopes to help the crisis.
They formed a group called Albuquerqueans Aiding African Albinos to collect sunscreen, sunhats, new sunglasses and money to ship donations to Tanzania to help albinos who always face the threat of being attacked because of the color of their skin.
The students are working on posters to put around the school to raise awareness about their campaign.
“We read a book called Golden Boy, and it’s about a boy who’s albino and he’s running away from a witch doctor, and that inspired us to help them,” said Liliana Beltran, a student. “The witch doctors believe they have dark magic in them, in their skin,” added Karime, another student on the team.
The people have learned about the horrors in Tanzania. Since 2006, more than 100 albinos have been savagely attacked in the East African country of Tanzania. More than 70 have died. The students were disturbed learning that albinos living there were being hunted for their flesh.
“They definitely want to send people with albinism their support and love,” said teacher Katy Hammel. While the students may not be able to stop the slaughter from their classroom in New Mexico, they hope to do their part through donations. “People with albinism in Tanzania rarely live past 40 because of skin cancer and vision problems,” Hammel said.
Through the Washington, DC non-profit Asante Mariamu, the class is asking the public to drop off donations at Edward Gonzales Elementary during school hours:
- New sunglasses
- Sunscreen with SPF 35 or higher, containing titanium dioxide
- Sunhats with a brim all around (no baseball hats)
- Magnifying glasses
- Cash donations
“Our goal for money is $400,” said Karime, a student.
Donations will be accepted through Friday, March 20. Gonzales Elementary is located at 554 90th Street SW in Albuquerque, near Tower and 90th. They will be delivered in June to Tanzania.
“I really like helping people who really need help,” said Andrew Ruvalcaba, a fifth grader.