In search of shadows: Being albino in the sunniest city

Published 06.11.2019 16:00
Updated 20.12.2019 01:29
In search of shadows: Being albino in the sunniest city

Year-round sunny weather in the southern city of Adana remains a challenge for its albino population, adding to their woes over people's perception of them

If Adana is famous for one thing other than its cuisine, it is the sweltering heat. This southern Turkish city has the sunniest days in the country. This can cause slight discomfort for others yearning for cold weather and less sunlight, but for albinos, it is a year-round ordeal.

Albino in the province who needs to avert sunlight, lead troubled lives in pursuit of a shady place every day while avoiding the looks of some people, treating them as “different.”

Having albinism, or the congenital absence of any pigmentation or coloration in a person, means rashes or burns on the skin for albinos when they are exposed to sunlight. A gloomy day is the biggest gift they can ask for in Adana, where it is especially rare. They are mostly confined at home or indoors wherever they study or work.

Reyhan Acer is a mother of two albino children, aged 19 and 13. Born with albinism, the siblings also suffer from severe blindness. The 44-year-old woman has devoted her life to her two children, accompanying them wherever they go even when they grew up. She says sunny days have been their biggest problem. “Adana is a hot, sunny place and whenever they go out, they get skin rashes and are in pain. They have to wear sunscreen and sunglasses whenever they go out,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA).

She complains that sunscreens are not classified as medication they can obtain for free through their social security plan and most of the time they cannot afford “very expensive” creams. So, they simply wait for the dark or afternoon.

Her 19-year-old daughter Ebru says she “misses cool weather without sunlight.” “I am also disturbed by the strange looks people often give me,” she says. She studies to be a teacher for children with special needs as “I am one of them.”

Like Reyhan Acer, Filiz Çevik, the mother of 12-year-old Müberra, complains of having to pay for sunscreen cream. “Certainly, it is good to be a mother of an albino child but it is also very difficult. It was especially depressing when she was born because of the way people perceived her. Even today, people sometimes ask me if she is adopted. I overcame these but the weather is still a problem,” she says.

Yeliz Demirci, the mother of two albino daughters aged 10 and eight, says being albino has “its pros and cons.” “They are different and beautiful. The downside is limited sight and skin problems. I can’t take them outside before 5 p.m. in the summer. They have to wear sunscreen, which can be very expensive. We also have frequent appointments with doctors for their loss of sight and there are very few doctors who can examine them here,” she says.

For Musa Selli, being an albino is “a privilege.” The 23-year-old university student who also works as judo and athletics trainer, says he’d wish to be “an albino again” if he was “born again.” “It makes you stand out among others. I believe that God did not give me a color but strength and intelligence instead. People see it as a disability but I don’t think so,” he says.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter