Caution: Get ready for a heartwarming story!
One doll at a time! – this is the mantra of a 64-year-old Brazilian grandfather, João Stanganelli Junior who is affected by vitiligo. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, according to Mayo Clinic, it is a long-term skin condition that causes the loss of skin pigment in patches. The condition affects roughly 1-3 % of the population and despite being harmless physically, it can result in sensitivity to the sun, social stigma, and psychological stress.
João began to show signs of vitiligo at 38, and having recently become semi-retired from the gastronomy industry, he still wants to keep himself active. And guess which hobby he chose to pursue? Crocheting! Isn’t that lovely?
His original idea was to knit dolls for his granddaughter, so she would always remember him. Therefore, his first doll was Vitilinda, a pretty doll with spots and uneven skin. After Vitilinda, João decided to continue doing more inclusive crochet dolls. The next dolls came in wheelchairs and made everyone fall in love with them.
At first, the process of learning crocheting wasn’t a breeze at all for João, as his fingers and back hurt a lot. But, now he spends 90% of his time crocheting dolls. And the most rewarding part is the fact that his work helps children feel normal and valued, by improving their self-esteem, no matter the condition they are affected by.
Knowing his works of art are valued by others, fuels him more with inspiration and motivation to continue doing these projects even more.
When talking about his condition, João quoted Benjamin Disraeli for Bored Panda:
Life is too short to be small.
He is simply one of the best examples of a wonderful soul who even after his semi-retirement doesn’t stop helping the community.
Just recently, João has made a doll for author Tati Santos de Oliveira, whose daughter, Maria Luiza has the same condition as him. She was only 3 years old when white spots started appearing on her little legs, back, and arms.
After her diagnosis, Tati started searching for all available literature related to vitiligo, so her daughter could feel represented. Unfortunately, there was no work to be found on the subject for children.
After two days, Tati had written A Menina Feita de Nuvens or The Girl Made of Clouds, which tells the story of Maria Luiza and her special secret (spots made of clouds). According to Tati, “It is a way to treat the acceptance of the disease with delicacy.”
We hope there will be many more similar works in all languages, one day soon!
Cute little dolls by a great man!
What we’ve learned until now is that the best way to promote inclusion is understanding and exposure to differences. Only in this way we can fight the social stigma. And, João’s hobby is not doing just that, as he is also bringing smiles to many children’s faces. Kudos to you, João! 🧡
Full of joy, love, and positivity! 😍🥰
Below you can read some of the people’s comments regarding João’s dolls. Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.