People with Vitiligo are often stared at, pointed at, and sometimes made fun of. The disease causes pigments to die off, leading to blotches on the skin. So, João Stanganelli Junior, a Brazilian grandfather who has this condition himself, started crocheting dolls to help kids with Vitiligo feel better about themselves.
It Became Gradually Noticeable
64-year-old João Stanganelli Junior from Brazil has lived with Vitiligo since he was in his 30s. The disease causes patches of skin to lose their pigments, and it tends to strike 1 to 3 percent of the human population.
It’s Psychologically Scarring
Aside from having an increased sensitivity to sunlight, Vitiligo is physically harmless. Unfortunately, it inflicts psychological stress due to the social stigma this condition produces. But it’s even more difficult on kids.
He tried to Stay Busy
Now that João has semi-retired from the gastronomy business because of health issues, he tries staying active with the help of his wife, who also took up crocheting so he could keep his mind and body active.
He Spends His Time With Dolls
João told Bored Panda, “At first my fingers and back hurt a lot, today no more.” The loving grandpa continues to work in the food industry, but fortunately, he doesn’t work full-time. If anything, he spends 90 percent of his time creating dolls.
He Crocheted an Unforgettable Doll
Once João got used to the calluses on his fingers, he picked up a rhythm and found it difficult to stop crocheting. His first project was creating a doll so his granddaughter would always remember him. So, he made one with Vitiligo patches.
He Created Inclusive Dolls
Then he decided to create more dolls. Each creation was even more inclusive. The talented grandpa also crocheted a doll that was in a wheelchair. João hoped was that children all over the world with similar conditions would feel included and appreciated. After all, a lot of people have Vitiligo.
The Dolls Brought Self-Esteem
All the kids who received their very own Vitiligo dolls felt a great deal of joy. So João continued making more. Then he used Facebook and Instagram to promote the amazing work he was crocheting and giving back to his community.
Made a Doll for Author’s Daughter
João even made a doll for Tati Santos de Oliveira, an author who has a daughter with Vitiligo. When Maria Luiza was three, signs of Vitiligo began to appear all over her body. Her dad feared she would feel like an outsider.
The Author Even Wrote a Book to Help His Daughter
Tati published a book called “A Menina Feita de Nuvens” which means “The Girl Made of Clouds.” The book is about his daughter Maria Luiza, who has spots made of clouds. This helped his little girl accept her condition, the way João’s dolls are doing for other kids.
Best Way to Promote Inclusion
João believes that exposing the public to the differences Vitiligo and other conditions provide will help fight ignorance and stigma, which is what he intends to continue doing one doll at a time.