Tanzanian trip to keep Alan’s project & vision going

The tutor group at Tanzania, from left, Laura Todd, Nita Odedra, Brian Munro, Ms Zaina Kabelwa, Principal of Patandi Teachers Training College, and Zoe Bain.

The tutor group at Tanzania, from left, Laura Todd, Nita Odedra, Brian Munro, Ms Zaina Kabelwa, Principal of Patandi Teachers Training College, and Zoe Bain.

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A group from the Rotary Club of Kirkcaldy embarked on a trip to Tanzania in a bid to help treat and educate children suffering from albinism.

The project was the brainchild of the late Alan Suttie who sadly passed away last year.

A keen Rotarian, Alan was also chief executive of Fife Society For The Blind and had previously worked in Tanzania before.

Albinism leads to a lack of a pigment called melanin which causes vision and skin problems. In African countries one in 4-5000 are affected by the condition and in such a superstitious continent the condition is treated with suspicion. Many babies born with albinism are taken from their families and killed.

The group leaving from Kirkcaldy included Rotarians Brian Munro (President) and Ken Stahley who were joined by orthoptists Jennifer Skillon and Zoe Bain from NHS Fife and Laura Todd from NHS England.

They went to the Patandi Teachers Training College where they trained the tutors, who in turn helped the trainee teachers to identify the children with visual impairments.

A group of 40 children with albinism arrived at the college for sight tests and were given visual aids as well as sun filters to help protect their eyes from the African sun

Jennifer said: “Alan Suttie had contacted me because he knew I had expertise in screening and his role was in education and ensuring that children in Africa are getting the same level of resources that they would get here.

“For example children in Africa with albinism were being taught Braille as if they were blind even though actually they may have had good vision which you can then utilise.”

The group now aim to keep the project going: “Otherwise you take resources and they start off well but can fall away. You need to keep going back and keep up with the training for it to be a success, that’s what Alan had found,” says Jennifer.

The trip has been hailed as a success by the group and each of them are at pains to pay tribute to Alan and his vision.

Ken said: “Without Alan this would never have happened. He started everything.

“He would have led the whole thing and probably more professionally than Brian and I did.

“He deserves full credit for this project.”