64-year-old Brazilian grandfather João Stanganelli Junior and his wife took up crocheting dolls with Vitiligo patches to make children suffering from the same condition happy.
Vitiligo is a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches. The extent and rate of color loss from vitiligo are unpredictable. It can affect the skin on any part of your body. It may also affect the hair and the inside of the mouth. Normally, the color of hair and skin is determined by melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives the skin its characteristic color. Vitiligo is caused by a loss of pigment in the skin, due to destruction of pigment-forming cells known as melanocytes.
64-year-old Brazilian grandfather João Stanganelli Junior has been living with Vitiligo since his 30s. It was initially minuscule and unnoticeable but slowly developed over the years and decades. He was previously employed in the gastronomy industry in Brazil but had to semi-retire from his work due to unrelated health issues. João then decided to start a new hobby for himself, so that he may keep himself active and engaged. So he and his wife began crocheting, and while it was quite difficult to get the hang of at first, they soon found the knack and have become pretty adept at it.
“At first my fingers and back hurt a lot, today no more,” João told Bored Panda. I’m not yet retired, I still keep up my old work with food, but much less intensely. At the moment I spend 90% of my time with the dolls. I have many orders.” According to him, crocheting has quite an addictive allure to it. He says that once anyone becomes accustomed to the rhythm and style behind the technique of crocheting, it becomes pretty hard to stop.
João’s first project in crocheting was to create a doll for his granddaughter. He wanted to make something for her that would remain etched in her memory. Since he was suffering from the Vitinlgo disease, he made the doll with patches similar to that of his skin, and thus began a great idea. He earnestly started making more of these inclusive dolls, even making one in a wheelchair. It seems that if you can make dolls to suit a certain type of illness, you can pretty much cover them all, thereby making people (especially children) who suffer from the same ailment a whole lot happier. All these dolls were designed to help children feel 'normal' and valued, no matter what type of disease or condition they are living with.
“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 continued. “I still quote Benjamin Disraeli: ‘Life is too short to be small.'”
The outlet also reported that João recently made a doll for author Tati Santos de Oliveira, whose daughter Maria Luiza was three years old when white spots began to gradually appear on her little legs, back and arms. After a confirmed diagnosis of vitiligo, Tati plunged into all available literature. “When I learned of the diagnosis, I sought, in addition to treatment, publications for her to feel represented,” she said. “I did not find in the market any work on the subject for children. Then it clicked!”
Just two days later, Tati had written ‘A Menina Feita de Nuvens‘ or ‘The Girl Made of Clouds.’ “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.” João loves the book and told us that it is “a great information tool for parents and children about vitiligo, so I always make it known.” Let’s hope we see an English translation one day soon!
As his dolls began to bring much joy and self-esteem to many children, João decided to make more of them and use Facebook and Instagram to showcase all his works. Well, thank you, João, for inspiring *us* with your actions and intent. We're sure that people who were previously thinking of calling it a day on their careers don't' necessarily have to retire to bed just yet, as there is still so much left to give back to the community.