In Brazil, vitiligo – a skin disease that results in the loss of pigmentation in patches over the body – affects almost 3 million people. There are treatments available, but even though the medical aspects of the disease can be managed, the way people who suffer from it are treated by the public often can not be.
As with almost everything in life, though, knowing you’re not alone in your fight can make it all just a little bit better.
Enter Mr. Joao, a man who has lived with vitiligo for half of his life. He is now crocheting dolls that also “have” the disease, so that children with the affliction will be able to see faces that reflect their own.
He began crocheting with his wife when he found himself facing an early retirement (due to a heart condition), and at first he just wanted to knit a doll that would remind his granddaughter of him.
Then, he began thinking about what the dolls could do on a grander scale. And so he made Vitilinda (a portmanteau of vitiligo and linda, Portuguese for beautiful).
Now, in addition to vitiligo, he knits dolls with other life challenges, like needing a wheelchair, being blind, and more.
Thank you for your work, Mr. Jaoa! You make the world a brighter place for kids who could use a little light.