Photographer Patricia Willocq’s breathtaking book “White Ebony” takes its readers into the unique world of Africans dealing with the effects of albinism. Telling the story through pictures, Willocq seeks to bring the world’s attention to the unique situation of African, especially Congolese people affected by the condition, who in most cases bear the added burden of being ostracized by their communities, facing constant discrimination from all sections of the population. This is in addition to poor access to much needed medical services that can meet the needs of people with albinism.
Willocq has immersed herself in bringing awareness to and supporting the efforts of NGOs around the world who are involved in advocating for human rights. She combines this tireless work with her passion for a career in freelance photography. In 2013, “White Ebony” was presented as an exhibition by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and was awarded an honorable mention at UNICEF’s Photo of the Year Award.
Patricia Willocq’s photography book is launching in Brussels, just ahead of the UN International Albinism Awareness Day. Patricia Willocq, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was pleased to have the support of the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF), as part of its wider project ‘Blanc Ebene’ (‘White Ebony’) project.
For GFF, supporting the photography project was a natural extension of its work in the field of albinism, and a natural follow-up to its wider initiatives addressing the needs of the DRC’s most vulnerable residents. The Foundation’s co-founder, Dan Gertler, has said: “The GFF has committed itself to supporting albinos in the DRC for many years, whether through arts, music, or health, and we are proud to support the efforts of Patricia and others in their aims to restore the dignity of the albino community.”
Last year, GFF partnered with the Mwimba Texas Foundation to support the Blanc Ebene (White Ebony) project, whose objective was to bring medical and social services to the DRC’s population of people with albinism. GFF also funded an initative that provided photochromic eyeglasses, free of charge, to 100 Congolese children with albinism. The special eye-wear, which improved the children’s vision, was provided through Hopital du Cinquantenaire de Kisangani. It provided the children who benefited from the project with the ability to learn to read, write and grow up to join literate society.
Accompanying Willocq’s book launch and also in honor of the first international Albinism Awareness Day, a special photo exhibition (also called “White Ebony”) will open at Halles-St.Gery in Brussels.It will run from 13 June to 27 July, 2015.