Tanzanian, albino teen survives attack seeking her 'magic' bones

Published:
Updated:

Bibiana Mashamba loves to dance, run and jump. But at 16 years old, she's having to re-learn how to walk.

It's because of a horrific attack.

"At 11 at night some robbers they come in our room," Bibiana said.

The robbers were after the Tanzanian teen's bones, and they got what they came for.

"They come, they chopped my leg and my two fingers and this leg," Bibiana said.

The robbers chopped off half of her right leg and some of her fingers, and tried to chop of her left leg.

It's all because of her skin color and a belief that her bones are magic.

"It"s all driven by this crazy belief that is also propagated by the witchcraft doctors that instill in these people that are so desperate, that if you take a limb of an albino person you are going to become rich," said Malena Ruth with the African Millennium Foundation.

In Bibiana's home country of Tanzania, being albino makes you a target.  

After 10 months in the hospital, Bibiana and her sister feared going back home.

"I was afraid, because if I could, If I could go back again," Bibiana said. "They could take my other limbs."

Tanzania politician Al Shymaa Kway-geer heard her story and took the Mashamba sisters in. Kway-geer is the first albino to hold office in the country.

She was put in place after the government outlawed witch doctors trying to curtail the attacks on albinos.

But, the attacks continue, leaving albino's like Bibiana with lifelong hardships.

When Malena Ruth got involved, she paid Bibiana's way to the Orthopedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles.

Doctors are giving Bibiana a high-tech leg that will give her freedom.

"I'm happy because I am alive," Bibiana said. "And I'm here in a good place, so I'm happy."

While Bibiana smiles through it all, Tindi can't bare to see her sister suffer.

"Most of the people, they hate us," Tindi said. "They try to hunt us or they say bad names."

Their dreams for the future are shaped by the trauma they lived through.

Tindi wants to be a Tanzanian judge to administer harsh punishments to violent criminals, and Bibiana wants to be a doctor, and not just any doctor, but a orthopedist, so she can help heal other children's bones.