Speed Reads


Tanzanian teen whose limbs were cut off because she is albino finds hope in the U.S.

After a vicious attack, a Tanzanian teenager is proving that nothing can beat her resilient spirit.

Bibiana Mashamba, 16, is an albino, and in Tanzania, witch doctors and certain cult members think people with albinism have body parts that are magical and bring wealth and prosperity. Mashamba's parents both died when she was young, and her aunt and uncle brought her and younger sister, Tindi, who is also albino, to live with them. Mashamba told KTLA that one night when she was 11, robbers came into the house and drugged her, then cut off her right leg and two fingers; she woke up as they tried to saw off her left leg. After her cousin discovered what was going on and screamed, the attack stopped. "The witch doctors who are telling them to come and chop our limbs, they are liars," Mashamba said. "How can someone get rich off my bones? I am not rich and they are my bones. This is the work of the devil."

Mashamba was in the hospital for 10 months, and says "it was so painful." She was terrified she would be hurt again, so Mashamba and her sister moved to Dar es Salaam, where the first office holder in Tanzania to have albinism, Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer, took them in. Mashamba was struggling with an outdated prosthesis that was painful and made it impossible for her to jump, dance, or run, but help soon came from the African Millennium Foundation, which brought Mashamba and her sister to Los Angeles. There, the Orthopaedic Institute for Children fitted her with a new prosthesis. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help Mashamba stay in the United States to attend boarding school, and she said one day she wants to be a doctor to help children in similar situations (her sister Tindi plans on becoming a judge). When asked by KTLA how she remains so positive, Mashamba's response was simple: "Because I am still alive." Catherine Garcia