Tanzanian With Albinism Gets New Arms
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Tanzanian Woman With Albinism Gets New Arms
Specialist Builds Prosthetic Limbs for Mariamu Staford Who Has Albinism; Was Target of
By JOSEPH DIAZ
FAIRFAX, Va., Aug. 27, 2010 —
On a cold winter evening, a soft-spoken, 28-year-old single mother from rural Tanzania
stepped off a plane at Dulles International Airport outside Washington D.C., with high
hopes. The goal of her trip: a shot at life.
It was 28-year-old Mariamu Staford's first time outside of Tanzania; but as she
approached customs, an agent wouldn't let her through, claiming she refused to be
fingerprinted. It wasn't that she wouldn't, but that she couldn't.
A year ago, both of Staford's arms were chopped off -- part of a brutal campaign of death
in her native country. Men armed with machetes stormed Staford's hut while she was
sleeping, she told ABC News, and began cutting at her arms in a gruesome attempt to
Click here to find out how to help Tanzanians with albinism
Persons with albinism, like Staford, are being hunted down and murdered; their bodies
sold on the black market and used in witchdoctor potions, all because of a superstitious
belief that the limbs of albinos possess special powers. Nearly 60 albinos have been
murdered in the last three years.
The attack rendered Staford an invalid. Unable to feed or clothe herself, or care for her
young son, she yearned for independence.
"I'm a grown person, but I can't do anything," she told "20/20." "I used to be able to rely
on myself, but now my mother must tend to my every need."
Staford thought her future was bleak. After meeting her last year, "20/20" helped
mobilize a group of volunteers, who affectionately became known as "Team Mariamu,"
to bring Staford to the U.S. Leading the team was Vicky Ntetema, a Tanzanian journalistturned-advocate, who bravely first exposed Staford's tragedy.
Eventually, a customs manager, who saw "20/20's" initial report about the grotesque