By Namugerwa Martha
Peter Ogik is an activist and advocate for persons with albinism in Uganda. His job involves sensitizing families and communities about equality and human rights for people with albinism in order to stop discrimination against them.
Ogik started human rights advocacy before even he knew the meaning of the term advocacy. That was way back in school where he would fight for fellow persons with albinism who were being discriminated against by teachers, fellow students, the community and even their own parents. He could not imagine some people identifying them as ghosts! Some people think albinos are cursed which affects their self esteem. Other people think when you have sex with a person with albinism you get lucky charm or heal from diseases like HIV/Aids.
Ogik says he was the first person with albinism to be born into his family and village, in as much as the people alive remember. His story however is one of determination and leadership in the face of prejudice. This, Ogik says, he learnt it from his family who faced abuse and stigmatization from the wider community.
People stopped doing business with his father, his mother’s friends stopped visiting the house because they feared that albinism could be contagious.
Born to Acheng and James Oringa who was a doctor in Jinja, Ogik studied primary school and secondary level in Jinja. He is an old boy of Jinja Senior Secondary School where he completed his secondary and later joined Kampala University for his higher education and graduated in 2011.
Ogik’s parents who had never seen a person with albinism stood strong with their son, with his dad advocating for his rights at school and in the community. Although they had no idea of how to take care of him, they loved their son despite of his condition which lifted his self esteem.
Turning weakness into strength
While at the university, Ogik and his friend Fazira Kawuma and with the support of ADD International, gathered other people with albinism in Busoga sub-region, Eastern Uganda in November 2012 to discuss their challenges and how to overcome them.
They made a resolution to form an organization that would unite them. In May 2013, Source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism (SNUPA) was formed.
He is now the national chairperson of youth with disabilities at NUDIPU Uganda, chairperson of disability council at Jinja district local government, chairperson, Board of directors at source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism.
Ogik is determined to change attitudes about albinism using music and entertainment to reach communities and spread awareness of albinism in order to help people with albinism to have better lives. He is still working with his friend Fazira Kawuma, who is also vice-chairperson of Uganda’s National Council for Disability, and passionate about supporting vulnerable and excluded people.