There is a tremendous amount of love for two sisters from Tanzania. Both are albino. One was the target of a horrific attack believed to be tied to voodoo. Bibiana Mashamba came to Los Angeles for state-of-the art care.
Bibiana is 16-years-old. She's been undergoing therapy at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children since April. In halting English she says "They are doing for me, a lot of things which are good."
Bibiana is learning to walk all over again with a new high tech prosthesis. She'd been attacked in her small village when she was ten. Two fingers and a leg were amputated with a machete.
Malena Ruth chokes backs tears as she talks about what happened. She is the president of the Beverly Hills based African Millenium Foundation which got the girls to Los Angeles. "Who does this" she asks?!
The answer lies in Tanzania, Africa and false cultural myths. Albinos can be a target of witchcraft doctors. Their limbs and body parts sought after with the belief they possess powers leading to wealth.
Younger sister Tindi was there when the attack happened. She too fights back tears telling their story. The girls were living with an uncle in a small village. Their parent's had long ago died from AIDS. After the attack, their uncle fled. The girls were living at a hospital.
The Honourable Alshaymaa Kwegyir saw their story in the newspaper. She is Tanzania's first albino elected to parliament. She took the girls in and is now their legal guardian.
Here in Los Angeles, there is healing. Bibiana was fitted with a new prosthesis. It was made by Hangar Clinic and is state-of-the-art. Her old prothesis served more like a crutch. It didn't even bend at the knee. Dr. Tony Scaduto says "because the amputation was above the knee a standard prosthesis didn't work." All of Bibiana's care was donated.
Now, Bibiana is no longer falling. She is not only walking strong, she can even run. "This is nice, it's good" she says with the biggest of smiles.
African Millenium Foundation: www.1amf.org
Orthopaedic Institute for Children: www.ortho-institute.org
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