Fijians who suffer from albinism have been urged to accept their own unique abilities.
The plea has come from 16-year-old Saint Joseph’s Secondary School student Sabina Moce, herself an albino, who believes she is special and unique in her own her way.
This was her message yesterday at International Albinism Awareness Day at Ratu Sukuna Park, Suva.
Sabina of Lodoni, Tailevu, is the eldest of six siblings, three of whom suffer from the disability.
“Being a young girl with albinism is unique because I am special and beautiful in my own way and I stand out despite being in the midst of a huge crowd,” she said.
Sabina said being born with the special disability did not mean they could not do well because, despite being different from everyone else, she herself received awards and titles during her primary education.
In 2013 Sabina was awarded the best Kula Film dancer award, in 2014 she was a prefect for the Fiji School for the Blind and was head girl of the school in 2015.
She said the awards had nothing to do with her disability, but the result for her own hard work and making good use of her God-given talents.
“I do face challenges, people stare at me while I walk around town, how do I react? I just ignore them,” Sabina said.
She said she carried on with her life despite her eyesight being her biggest challenge because she could not see very far and needed sunscreen when out in the sun.
“My message is; I maybe different, but I am also the same,” Sabina said.
“I am still a student, I am still Fijian and I’m still beautiful. Please treat me as you would anyone else with respect and love.”
She called on her friends with albinism to acknowledge their disability, take good care of themselves because they were a gift from God.
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who was chief guest at the event, said it was important for people to understand that no matter what disability one had, they needed to be brought into mainstream Fijian society and be looked after.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said to have special recognition of those who had specific needs, requirements and laws were enacted under the leadership of the Fijian Prime Minister to facilitate that.
He said recently the Government brought forward the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability and Fiji ratified the convention.
He said as a result a new Act of Parliament which recognised the special rights of persons with disabilities would not be possible if it had not been enshrined in the Fijian 2013 Constitution that had specific rights for persons with disabilities.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the idea was to create awareness on albinism and to ensure that Fijians are informed that such persons should not be discriminated against or ridiculed.