About UTSS

Under The Same Sun (UTSS) is passionately committed to ending the often deadly discrimination against people with albinism. UTSS promotes, via advocacy and education, the wellbeing of persons with albinism who in many parts of the world are misunderstood, marginalized, and even attacked and killed because of their genetic condition. UTSS is founded on the belief that all persons are created in God’s image and as such are worthy of love, respect and, above all, dignity. 
 
While UTSS acts globally, much of our focus has been on the crisis faced by people with albinism in Tanzania. From there, UTSS is reaching across Africa and the world, to stimulate a movement that roots out discrimination and plants the seeds of empowerment for people living with albinism.
 

Why is having albinism such an issue?

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Who we are

The 2016 International Women of Courage Award was presented to Vicky Ntetema on March 29, 2016, by The Honorable John F. Kerry, Secretary of State, at the U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. This award honours women who have demonstrated extraordinary courage and leadership in advocating, often at great personal risk, for social justice, human rights, gender equality, and the advancement of women and girls. It is the only Department of State award that pays tribute to outstanding women leaders worldwide. 
 
The Innovation Award was presented to Vicky Ntetema on July 19, 2015, by Dream Success Enterprises of Tanzania for her investigative work relating to witchdoctors’ involvement in the killings of persons with albinism. 
 
The Netherlands Human Rights Tulip award (Nominee) 2014: UTSS is privileged to have been nominated for this prestigious award for human rights groups worldwide.
 
The President’s Call to Service Award was signed by President Obama and presented to Peter Ash on September 13, 2014, in Los Angeles, California, by The Corporation for National and Community Service in recognition of his devotion to service and volunteerism. 
 
The Companionate of Merit Award for outstanding service to humanity was presented to Peter Ash in Los Angeles, California, by The Grand Priory of the United States Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem on September 13, 2014, at their 4th annual solemn and sacred Investiture Service. 

The Tanzania Women of Achievement Award in the Information and Communication category was presented to UTSS Tanzania's Executive Director, Vicky Ntetema, on March 28, 2013.

The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal was awarded to Peter Ash in Langley, BC, Canada on November 24, 2012 to honour his significant contribution and achievement as a Canadian on behalf of persons with albinism in the country of Tanzania.

The New England College of Optometry Presidential Medal was awarded to Peter Ash for his humanitarian efforts in Tanzania on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Their Excellencies The Right Honorable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston were pleased to invite Mr. Peter Ash to a State Dinner in honour of His Excellency Jakaya M. Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, ON, Canada.

The V-Award by Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) was given to Peter Ash on September 15, 2011 in the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, CA. In this inaugural event, Peter was highlighted for his distinguished humanitarian service relating to persons with albinism in Tanzania.

The British Columbia Community Achievement Award was given to Peter Ash on April 20, 2011in Government House, Victoria, by Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, The Honourable Steven L. Point, OBC. This award celebrates the spirit, imagination, dedication and outstanding contributions of British Columbians to their communities.

The 2010 Courage in Journalism Award was given to Vicky Ntetema on Tuesday, October 19 in New York City, NY and Thursday, October 21in Los Angeles, CA. The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) honoured Vicky for her freelance investigation and reporting in Tanzania on the brutal killings of albinos by witchdoctors in 2007. Now the Director of Operations for Under The Same Sun’s Tanzanian office, Vicky previously served as BBC bureau chief in Tanzania and had been working with the BBC since 1991.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award was conferred on January 15, 2009 by U.S. Ambassador Mark Green. It was awarded upon the People of the Albinism Community in Tanzania for waging a peaceful battle for equality and justice. Chairman of the Tanzania Albino Society Ernest Kimaya received the award on behalf of all Tanzanians with albinism. The Hon. Al-Shaymaa Kwegyir (MP); Tanzania Albino Society Activist, Josephat Torner; and BBC journalist Vicky Ntetema also accepted the award and spoke at the event.
 

Our Projects

Our amazing Tanzanian team makes up 2 well-staffed departments to help achieve its goals. The departments are:

1 - Our Education Program (EP - formerly ESF) is the UTSS flagship, offering comprehensive education funding to keen and dedicated students with albinism demonstrating a need for financial or other schooling assistance. Beneficiaries are exposed to a high quality, inclusive education experience in primary, secondary and all levels of higher learning up to graduate studies.  Due to the multiple attacks against PWA in Tanzania, hundreds of children were herded into numerous government boarding schools throughout the country for “safe keeping”.  The extreme overcrowding, poor living conditions and abuse in the government schools compelled UTSS to relocate hundreds of these “displaced children” into higher quality private boarding schools. The EP also covers personal expenses, school supplies and uniforms for all students along with any needed medical services including regular dermatology & optometry examinations. We also ensuring that they have protective gear including sun protective clothing, sunscreen lotion and low vision devices. These students will be future models within their own society of what PWA can be when given an opportunity. They are the strongest voice against discrimination and the most powerful message about the humanity, dignity and capability of PWA; educating and advocating their own culture towards change.

2 - Our Advocacy and Public Awareness (APA) program educates the public using all forms of media, both nationally and internationally, including at the African Union and at the UN where we are an accredited non-government organization. We constantly inform about albinism, disseminating information on health and offering genetic truths to diffuse existing myths about albinism that often lead to dehumanizing stigma and discrimination used by witchdoctors and their clients to justify the macabre killings of PWA.  APA informs about human rights violations by investigating, collecting and publishing data about the atrocities against PWA. There is also a strong emphasis on the domestic understanding of albinism with simple, de-mythologizing messages about human dignity and respect, focusing on simple genetic & medical explanations, offering easy ways to live with and care for the condition. Additionally, our Tanzanian office frequently blitzes various parts of the country with Understanding Albinism (UA) seminars. These “in-person” encounters, where our PWA staff teaches their fellow citizens about albinism, helps humanize and normalize the issue. It is a highly interactive event with the audience where hearts and minds are enlightened and positive social change regularly occurs. We target both rural and urban centers including government agencies, hospitals, schools & universities, workplace environments, religious groups, police departments, village elders, family members, neighbours and friends.

Friends of UTSS

Dr. Rebecca Kammer

UTSS cannot put into words our gratitude for the gift that Dr. Kammer (Becky) has given to people with albinism in Tanzania. She has tirelessly offered Low Vision Clinics, met with every student in our Education Program and provided glasses and other low vision devices. This will profoundly change their educational experience, their lives and ultimately the discriminatory attitudes against albinism in Tanzanian culture.

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Albinism Fellowship of Australia

The Albinism Fellowship of Australia (AFA) is a national, non-profit organization established in 2005. The fellowship is run by volunteers who all have been personally touched by albinism in some way.The AFA’s key purpose is to provide support, education and fellowship to those with albinism, parents of children with albinism as well as their families and friends. While the albinism community in Australia is only small, the AFA provides a united voice to encourage productive developments and support within business, government and media.

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The Canadian High Commission in Tanzania

The Canadian High Commission in Dar es Salaam generously donated $20,000 to help launch the UTSS Radio Campaign Project.

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Discover Albinism Uganda

Discover Albinism Uganda is a U.S. based nonprofit working with the Uganda Albino's Association to end descrimination agains persons with albinism. 

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Express Lens Lab

UTSS is eternally grateful to Brian Goldstone and his company, Express Lens Lab, for the generous supply of optical lenses to meet the low vision needs of persons with albinism in Tanzania. This will profoundly change the educational experience of the students with albinism in our Education Scholarship Fund program. As education changes their lives, the discriminatory attitudes of their fellow countrymen will be challenged, as will the role of persons with albinism in Tanzanian culture.

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