5-Year-Old Albino Boy Becomes Model For Primark After Mum Shares His Pic On Facebook

Albinism is an inherited condition that effects pigment in the skin, hair and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light. Because of a lack of melanin, almost all people born with albinism are visually impaired and are prone to developing skin cancer, but are otherwise perfectly healthy and can live long and fulfilling lives. However, myths and stigma around the condition are rife, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where the condition is more prevalent and there is a greater contrast to the mainly darker-skinned population. In Western countries, where it is estimated around 1 in 17,000 newborns are affected, discrimination can consist of name-calling, persistent teasing and bullying of children with albinism. However, in some southern African countries like Tanzania and Zimbabwe, the superstitions surrounding albinism has led to rejection, abandonment and even ritual killings. To counter misunderstandings, provide healthcare and raise awareness of albinism, legendary Malian musician Salif Keita, who himself was born with the condition, created The Salif Keita Global Foundation. Slowly but surely, people are becoming more familiar with albinism and those who live with it are finding it easier to feel accepted and more socially integrated. 5-year-old Elijah Enwerem from Willenhall, England, has always been a little shy about being different but is learning to embrace his unique looks after getting modeling contracts for Primark, a UK-based clothing store.

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Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

“Elijah’s dad and I had no knowledge that we were carriers of the condition. As far as we are aware no one in our immediate family has ever had the condition,” Elijah’s mom Lucy told Bored Panda. “The main difficulty is the effect on the eyes…. Elijah has nystagmus (wobbly eyes) and although he is lucky because his null point is straight in front it can make his eyes tired and give him headaches. It also affects the level of his vision, so he is classed as having “low vision”… this means he doesn’t see things with the same clarity as you or I. His vision was assessed a few weeks ago and we were told currently he would not be able to drive a car when he is older. He also has photosensitivity- bright light really hurts. In summer he often squints his eyes outside and under bright lights, he complains about the pain. When he was a tiny baby he would scream constantly and I think knowing now more about the condition it was probably due to this – he was born near to summer and we would spend lots of time outside.” Action boy on two wheels

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Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

“Despite all of the attention, Elijah remained very shy about his looks – he refused to engage with people even though they would often come up on the street and touch him. Since he has been modelling his confidence has grown massively. He will politely thank people if they say how amazing his hair is or how beautiful he is. Previously he would growl!” Remembering when Elijah was a baby….the only picture of him quiet!

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Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

“I have overheard him telling other children: ‘Do you do know that I’m Black really? If you took off my skin my blood is Black. My blood is African.’ This was after our attempts to explain his albinism and the differences that he has from his little brother. He also once said ‘do you know mommy I’m supposed to be brown’ I answered ‘no Elijah, you are exactly as the universe intended you to be. There is no ‘supposed’ to be about anything.’ He is quite happy about that. Everything for a reason.” Summer festival days… BZ6wtVvHhlc

Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

“At first, he thought he was the only boy to have albinism ‘just me and the animals’ (he had seen albino lions and tigers etc and thinks they are super cool!) but then I have shown him more children and adults that we have contact with on Instagram. Also the American model Ava Clarke (the similarities between the two of them is quite weird! They look like siblings!) and a couple of UK male models called Leo Jonah and Jordan Charles.” Elijah made friends at the farm…a little too similar lol Ba1dE2fnF40-png__700

Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

“We are actually meeting up with Jordan in London on Saturday so the two of them can do a shoot together. We are down in London for London Kids Fashion Week where Elijah is walking for two designers on Friday and Saturday. He is very excited!”

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Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

“Modeling was strictly an outlet to them all of the attention that Elijah gets into something positive for him. I’m not if it’s something he’ll pursue as he gets older- he’s more intent on changing the world somehow. He wants everyone to be kind to animals, and each other. He wants to make sure that everyone has a home and no one has to sleep on the cold streets (these are his words!) He’s also a massive superhero fan (he’s obsessed with Black Panther and the Avengers) so some days he just wants to be a superhero. And he’s also a very talented gymnast- working well above his years.” When you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine

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Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

“He absolutely loves his modelling even though he is quite shy about it. He loves the adventures and I think the attention when he is being photographed- it’s wonderful to watch him in front of the camera because he is so natural, he looks so comfortable.” Why fit in when you were born to stand out? – Dr Seuss BoIy9MjHFJS-png__700

Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

“He’s such a good boy at school and is doing really well in his lessons. His teachers are very supportive and from speaking to the Headmistress they are all very proud of him.” Sometimes, when I look deep in your eyes, I swear I can see your soul…

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Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

“Elijah is a very lucky young man. He was born here in the UK to a loving and supportive family. Others with albinism are not so lucky. The stigma that people with albinism(pwa) suffer in other countries is frightening. There is also a lack of equipment even simple things we take for granted such as sunscreen.” BtGTrBhhMxo-png__700

Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

“I would like to think that Elijah is helping to spread awareness of the condition and to dismiss some of the myths surrounding people with albinism. He’s a bright, caring, beautiful young man who celebrates his differences and hopefully radiates the message that being unique is a wonderful thing. We are all unique and special and deserve love and kindness.” “If you’ve got to think about being cool, you ain’t cool.”

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Image credits: Lucy Dawes

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Image credits: Primark

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Image credits: Primark

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Image credits: Primark

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Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

Floor to ceiling Elijah … it’s so great that people keep sending us pictures from all over UK x find your amazing BpjCi8_BIRu-png__700

Image credits: everyone_loves_lijah

Here’s what people had to say about Elijah’s story

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