Grandfather With Vitiligo Crochets Dolls To Help Children With The Same Condition Feel Better
It all started when 64-year-old Brazilian grandfather João Stanganelli Junior found his interest in crocheting after his retirement. As a vitiligo patient himself, he decided to use his crocheting skills to create vitiligo crochet dolls to make young vitiligo patients feel better. Vitiligo is a chronic skin condition associated with pale patches on some areas of the skin. This condition is caused by a loss of pigment (melanocytes) that gives the skin its characteristic color. It is a rare condition that affects nearly 1% of the world’s population. And it can start at any age. It can manifest after birth and can even affect adult people in their 20s. As for João, he first noticed the symptoms of vitiligo in his 30s.
Although vitiligo is not life-threatening, this rare condition could inflict social stigma and lower self-esteem among those with this condition. Children with vitiligo are at high risk of having social problems that may lead to depression and social isolation. In order to help these children cope with the condition, João thought of creating vitiligo crochet dolls. Seeing a doll that reflects their selves can significantly help them accept their current condition and their own selves. After retirement, João found himself engrossed with crocheting together with his wife. Being a novice to the craft, he found it difficult at first. But persistent practice and his steadfast determination made him fall in love with the craft and finally got the hang of it. Not long after, he became addicted to crocheting.
To commemorate his newfound hobby, he decided to make a doll for his granddaughter. But it shouldn’t be just like any ordinary doll. It should be something that will always remind her of him, and that’s when a brilliant idea came to his mind. He then started to make a vitiligo crochet doll – a unique doll with pale white patches just like him. His first creation gave him a gratifying feeling that he didn’t feel for a long time. And he wanted to share that feeling to other people with the same condition as him.
That’s when he began creating more vitiligo crochet dolls for other vitiligo-affected children. You can follow João’s noble mission on his Facebook and Instagram accounts. Based from the photos, you can just feel the happiness of the kids as they embrace the vitiligo crochet dolls in their own likeness.
“My view of vitiligo seems to me to be very different from the general, I think it is necessary first that you have vitiligo, after this acceptance you choose what you want to do,” João shares. “The horrible spots are the spots on the character.”
João thought of extending his skills to other children with different disabilities as well. He also made a visually-impaired crochet doll for blind kids and a crochet doll in a wheelchair to help kids feel normal no matter what their medical conditions are. Just recently, João created a doll based on a book titled ‘A Menina Feita de Nuvens’ (The Girl Made of Clouds). The children’s book was written by Tati Santos de Oliveira who has a daughter inflicted by vitiligo when she was three years old.
“The book tells the story of Maria Luiza and her special secret. She has spots made of clouds. It is a way to treat the acceptance of the disease with delicacy.”
In order to help promote the book and help educate the public about this condition, João made a doll based from the main character the book. You can purchase the book in Portuguese here. But if you can’t understand the language just like us, we can only hope for an English version to come soon.