Windhoek Eva Ndatipo, 23, was in Grade 5 when she realised that she was different from most people in her immediate environment. At the age of 12 Eva moved to a school for the visually impaired in Khomasdal, where she was exposed to other children living with albinism. All the offensive names from her peers and the unending stares finally started to make sense. “I grew up in an environment full of kids and they always called me different names. I didn’t understand why they called me ‘ekishi’ and I even used to run after them when they called me that,” Eva explains, as she tries to make sense of her childhood memories. “When I finally realised that I was different it really started affecting me,” she adds. The prelude to her adulthood was defined by low self-esteem and trying to make sense of why her skin colour was different from the rest. This shifted her focus away from her childhood dream of becoming a model. She instead fed on the destructive comments of her critics. So much so that the only solution seemed to be to isolate herself. “People would ask me why I liked to stay alone,” she says, as she looks back on what she had to endure. But, then it dawned on Ndatipo that her skin colour would never change. And so she had a choice - to dwell in self-pity, or rewrite the story of her life. As she began to dethrone her critics, and being beauty conscious, she gradually gained more confidence, Eva - who portrays an obvious sense of style - says that was when she decided to embark on a career in modeling. In March this year she enrolled for a three-month course. Now a first-year media studies student at the College of the Arts Eva made history in April when she was crowned the first runner-up, as well as Miss Personality, at the Miss Youth pageant organised by the National Youth Council. Dressed in a green dress and black sandals, the free-spirited Eva Ndatipo said: “Ever since I was small I wanted to be a model. I used to organise beauty pageants, but I never took part because I had low self-esteem”. Although she always knew that she is beautiful, Eva admits it was only when she decided to embrace her skin colour that things changed for the better. “I was always conscious of my skin colour, but last year for the first time I wore a blouse, shorts and high heels and went out with my mother,” she says. The compliments from those who saw her were endless. Ndatipo, who is greatly inspired by her mother, Jacobina Mwetulundila, her aunt, Aune Sam, and former Miss Namibia 2013 Paulina Malulu, as well as Refilwe Modiselle, a South African model living with albinism, said her winning at the beauty pageant not only opened doors for her, but for many others living with albinism. “I know that people living with albinism are inspired by the fact that I am the first runner-up of the Miss Youth pageant,” said Ndatipo, vowing to take her modeling career to another level. Although there were unconfirmed reports of albinos being killed for their body parts to be used for muti or witchcraft in Namibia, Eva is thankful that the situation is not like in other countries. “I don’t know of something like that. The only challenge we have is people saying hurtful things and I am so thankful that albinos are not killed in Namibia. We even have an albino minister and I thank the Namibian government for that,” she says. In addition, she has observed that many people living with albinism, especially in the north, do not take care of their skin. “In the north people with albinism don’t care about their skin. “Once the skin burns from the sun it peels. That is why the doctors encourage us to always apply sunscreen and keep our skins as moist as possible. “When I go in the sun I’m always in a jersey. If I don’t wear a jersey, it’s because I have applied my sunscreen,” said the young lady, who originally hails from the Ohangwena Region. Eva has made it a point to raise awareness in her community by sharing facts about people living with albinism. “I educate others about people living with albinism and I sometimes advise other people living with albinism how to take care of their skin,” she adds. The chairperson of Support in Namibia for Albinism Sufferers Requiring Assistance (SINASRA), Dr Peter Stoermer confirmed that there are isolated cases of victimisation of people living with albinism. Some parents, especially in the remote areas, hide their children from society, he said. However, the situation is not as bad as is in some countries, particularly in East Africa, where the bodies of albinos are mutilated for witchcraft. There are an estimated 1 800 people living with albinism in Namibia, said Stoermer, noting that “There is not so much victimisation in Namibia due to outreach and education”.
New Era Reporter
2015-10-30 09:46:39 3 years ago