What a ride it has been for our cause. Since our organisation’s initiation in Nigeria 6 years ago, we have been touching lives and renewing hearts of those diagnosed with Vitiligo, beginning in Africa.
The fire in my heart towards helping these individuals has not diminished after all these years, but now burns more than ever before when I see our actions impacting people from all walks of life.
Toward those diagnosed with Vitiligo, I have these words to say: You are not alone. There is strength in your supposed “illness”, and there is courage for those who dare to find it. Throughout the Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation’s (VITSAF) tenure in Nigeria, we have managed to, despite all obstacles, improve the Quality of Life of patients, and enhance their self confidence. Through active outreach programmes and activities, we have shed new light and continue to inspire adequate medical and personal attention to these people, drastically changing their lives as they know it.
To achieve this, we follow 5 simple convictions, or “truths” in our approach:
It was Feb 2005, when I woke up with the right side of my lip turned white. I gradually developed some white patches on my forehead, arm, and neck all to my right side; I had developed Vitiligo, and was officially diagnosed with the condition.
More importantly, I had 2 choices. Either I could continue feeling sorry for myself, or I could choose to make a difference. I chose the latter.
Whilst Vitiligo may have been popularised by Michael Jackson, few people actually do understand this skin condition. There is need for better understanding of this condition which affects a large number of people globally; especially in Nigeria and Africa - understanding is the key to embracing this group of individuals.
MJ was called names for turning white out of a condition over which he had no control; like most of us with the condition, he was misunderstood and victimised. Although the argument still rages on today, as to whether he really did have Vitiligo or not, I personally believe he did experience Vitiligo, and underwent a treatment option called Depigmentation (you can read more about it here). This is a treatment option usually being suggested by Dermatologist for those with over 60% of the white patches in the exposed areas..
Why Michael Jackson, of all people? Because his case is an example of how complicated vitiligo can be. Many of us with the condition blame him for not tapping on his popularity to spread word or garner help for the cause, yet his battles with the disease was so public and a constant reminder of how ‘visible’ vitiligo can be.
Finally, MJ’s case is a reminder of how many of us are living with the condition and the extremes we’ll go to hide our vitiligo. Was it easy for him, even with all the fame? Most definitely not. Think of how many a times you have seen him with an umbrella over his head, and you will have an idea why.
MJ in all his fame and popularity never stopped being human, and that in itself is a mark of his strength; and why we dedicated Advocacy for World Vitiligo Day – June 25th in memory of MJ.
It’s true that treatment of vitiligo has proven challenging for physicians and no definite cure is currently available. I also know full well that the emotional impact of living with vitiligo can be devastating and a huge challenge especially in our society where it is labeled with such negativity like it’s a ‘Curse’, ‘Nemesis’, ‘Anger of the gods’, ‘Spiritual attack’, ‘eating some forbidden food’; it’s not an exaggeration to say that it can feel hopeless, but do we now dwell on this and live in misery the rest of our days?.
Information - I believe that what we are doing at VITSAF is providing the right tools for you living with Vitiligo to provide help for yourselves, at the very least.
Living in denial has never helped anyone, and it will never help anyone.
I think it’s better for us to face reality, accept the fact that Vitiligo is here, then choose a positive approach, can be a combination of spiritual, healthy living, clinical, all natural therapy, nutritional supplements, and positive living other than lamenting, withdrawn and seeking for pity.
Life was never meant to be hidden. It was meant to be shared, to be displayed in all its glory.
It is 20% what happens to you, 80% how you respond to it.
Journey with us today to learn how to cope, how to deal with this condition. But more importantly, how not to let yourself down, but how to Love and Accept yourself for you.