A CHARITY campaigner is set to launch a new initiative with the aid of Channel 4 News’ Jon Snow to help persecuted albinos in Africa.
Jane Betts, a former Holland Park Primary School and Clacton County High School student, found her way into charity work after teaching at a university in north east China in 1992.
While she was there she witnessed the plight of the many people who were gravely disadvantaged and sidelined by disabilities and poverty.
She said: “What I saw made me decide to do something to try to help those affected.
“I spent lengthy periods in areas of countries which have poverty levels well below anything comparable in the UK.
“These included several African countries, Caribbean islands, and places suffering the after-effects of war in East Asia and eastern Europe.
“I met and married another aid worker, Andrew, who was equally passionate about trying to help the disadvantaged, and we decided to set up a charity.”
The charity, Advantage Africa, was registered in 2002.
The problems they attempt to alleviate result from extreme poverty, but also include disability and HIV.
They are now also helping to tackle problems associated with albinism.
Jane added: “Albinism is very much more common in Africa than in other continents and it brings with it very grave additional risks.
“Albinism is a genetic condition which means people lack the protective skin pigment Melanin.
“About 98 per cent of those suffering from it die from skin cancers before they are 40-years-old.
“Many have also been killed or maimed because their body parts are considered lucky and they are also used to make potions.”
The charity is being supported by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who knows Uganda well.
He will be broadcasting an appeal for funds for Advantage Africa on Radio 4 on Sunday.
Mr Snow said: “In Uganda, being black or white can make all the difference between life and death.
“It doesn’t have to be like that.”
For more information about the charity, go to advantageafrica.org.