Grandfather With Vitiligo Crochets Dolls To Make Children With This Condition Feel Better

By Abdul Rafay in Feel Good Published On 9th September 2023
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In areas of the skin affected by vitiligo, the pigment is lost, leaving behind white patches with distinct borders. 

Image credits: joaostanganelli

The disease, which affects between one and three percent of people, is otherwise not harmful physically, but it can lead to social stigma, psychological stress, and an increased sensitivity to the sun.

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Brazilian grandpa Joo Stanganelli Junior, 64, has vitiligo, which started to show up in his 30s and has been getting worse over time.

Due to unrelated health difficulties, Joo recently opted to semi-retire from the food sector. 

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Image credits: joaostanganelli

To keep himself busy and interested, he made the decision to pick up a pastime. He started crocheting with his wife, and while it was challenging at first, he quickly picked it up.

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“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 Joo, if you become used to the rhythm (and the calluses on your fingers), it can be difficult to stop crocheting.

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Joo's first endeavor was making a doll for his granddaughter as a memento of him. He then came up with an idea after making a doll with vitiligo patches.

Image credits: joaostanganelli

Joo began creating more of these inclusive dolls, one of which was a doll in a wheelchair. No matter what ailment a child may have, they were all created to make them feel "normal" and appreciated.

Joo continued to create, utilizing Facebook and Instagram to share his most recent creations, motivated and inspired by the happiness and self-esteem his dolls were delivering.

This is the perfect opportunity to give back to the community for anyone who is thinking about retiring soon!

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“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 horrible spots are the spots on the character.”

Image credits: joaostanganelli

Joo recently created a doll for author Tati Santos de Oliveira's daughter Maria Luiza, whose little legs, back, and arms started to gradually develop white spots when she was three years old.

Following a vitiligo diagnosis, Tati dove deeply into the body of available literature.

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“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!”

Tati wrote "A Menina Feita de Nuvens," also known as "The Girl Made of Clouds," just two days later. "The narrative of Maria Luiza and her unique mystery is told in the book. She has cloud-like patches on her. It is a tactful method to handle the disease's acceptance.”

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Image credits: joaostanganelli

The book is a favorite of Joo's, and he told us that it is "a great information tool for parents and children about vitiligo, so I always make it known." Let's hope an English translation will be available soon!

The best method to promote inclusion while combating the social stigma that ignorance breeds is through understanding and exposure to difference. With his newfound passion, Joao is accomplishing just that while simultaneously making many young children smile. Kudos, Joo!

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