They Don't Die, They Disappear

Anthea Spivey

2018 - Ongoing

Dakar, Senegal

They Don't Die, They Disappear is a photographic exploration into the albino community in Senegal. For this particular project, I worked alongside the charity, Club Albinos SN. Through this, I was able to meet and photograph people in the small West African nation living with albinism. I spent a large amount of my childhood shared between Tanzania and Senegal. In Tanzania, people with albinism are murdered and mutilated and often used in witchcraft or ‘black magic’. There are a huge amount of myths that are associated with albinism in Africa, including the idea that there is a link between albinism and incest in families, that people with albinism can cure HIV/AIDS, and even that their blood can find gold. Unfortunately, in many communities, people with albinism are alienated and ostracised for the colour of their skin. I soon learnt that Senegal is much more progressive in their societies approach to albinism, however, one of the biggest issues is the astronomical prices one is expected to pay to purchase sunscreen to protect their skin. In Senegal the average cost of a 50ml bottle of sunscreen is the equivalent of £12, and a 100ml bottle can cost upwards of £30. It was reported that people living with albinism in Senegal spend a 6th of their monthly salary on sunscreen alone. My aims for this project was to not only raise awareness to the cause but also to start the ball rolling on donating sunscreen to people that cannot afford it themselves. I started sharing the project whilst at university on social media and from that, the team of people involved with the charity including the founder, El Hadji Gueye, were able to raise over 300 bottles from across the world including Germany, Australia, the United States and England, to Club Albinos SN. Because of the stories that I was sharing through my photographs, change ensued. The people that I photograph were all aware of the aims of the project and understood that having their voices heard would start a conversation on what it means to have albinism in Africa.

Through this PHmuseum grant, I will be able to continue making projects like They Don't Die, They Disappear. My aim is to effectively go back to Tanzania and start working on projects there involving the albino community as well as other communities we were involved with during my childhood.

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