Life of darkness for kids who can be killed by the sun

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Life of darkness for kids who can be killed by the sun

Ostracised, they are at huge risk for cancer and blindness due to a genetic mutation caused by in-family marriages

Joe Wallen

As the sun sets and the evening call to prayer sounds, it’s the dawning of a new day for Ameer Hamza. Ameer, 14, has xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), a genetic condition that makes the sun’s rays lethal.

The cricket-mad boy must stay indoors during the day but at sunset he dashes from his family’s flat to a dusty playground to join dozens of other children at a makeshift wicket in Jeedimetla, an impoverished Muslim district in the city of Hyderabad.

It is a rare condition, but up to one in 370 Indians are believed to suffer from XP – one of the highest incidences anywhere in the world. Contact with UV rays causes a sufferer’s skin to pigment, burn and take on a blistered, scaly appearance. Playing cricket is Ameer’s only real freedom, but the condition means he is ostracised by the other children. XP marks him out as different and many of the other children wrongly believe the condition is infectious...

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