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Tanzanian Archbishop to Visit Diocese of Toledo

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TOLEDO, OH (Press Release) -

Archbishop Paul R. Ruzoka of Tabora, Tanzania, is to visit the Diocese of Toledo in May to bring awareness of atrocities committed against albino children in his country.

Archbishop Ruzoka is to attend a fundraising event, "An East African Tragedy: Saving Lives - Keeping them Safe" that the Universal Initiative Foundation is sponsoring May 13 at The Pinnacle in Maumee. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a reception followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. and comments by prominent physicians and University of Toledo award-winning missionary doctors Richard Paat and S. Amjad Hussain. The evening also includes silent and live auctions and a door prize of an iPad.

Archbishop Ruzoka is working in conjunction with the Universal Initiative Foundation, a local nonprofit founded by Don and Gisela Stiles, members of Toledo St. Patrick of Heatherdowns. The couple served as missionaries and consultants to the archbishop in 2010 and has worked to shed light on the violence in Tanzania since returning to the United States.

Since 2007, official reports indicate 290 people with albinism have been brutally attacked and their body parts cut off and sold to witch doctors in Tanzania and other parts of Africa. Leaders in the albinism community believe the actual number of attacks is even higher.

The violence is driven by local belief that the body parts of albinos possess magical powers capable of bringing riches if used in potions produced by witch doctors. Another superstition believes that sex with albino women and girls can cure HIV/AIDS, resulting in the rape of albino victims.

The Universal Initiative Foundation proposes to build a self-sustaining, secure facility for 600 children and young adults on five acres of land donated by the parish of Cheyo, one of 22 parishes under the leadership of Archbishop Ruzoka. The facility is to provide albino residents as well as non-affected orphans a secure home with needed medical, educational and vocational opportunities. Catholic sisters and lay employees are to staff the facility on a full-time basis. 

Tickets are $50 per person or $360 for a table of eight and may be purchased by contacting Don Stiles at uif.stiles@gmail.com or 419-491-1203. For more information about the Universal Initiative Foundation, visit www.universalif.org