Mass Vitiligo Awareness in Rural India
395 kms Traveled| 3 Sessions Conducted |153 Lives Impacted| 1 Day Invested
“One of my relatives had these white patches. I saw her live her life beautifully. Although she had to face stigma outside the house, she was always loved by her husband & children. I am so happy that you are spreading awareness on this skin condition. It was really informative and I got to know about the formation of skin color and Vitiligo.”
– Nirmala (Name Changed)
This time SupportVitiligo had the opportunity to do something on a really big scale. This is a first of its kind awareness initiative where above 150 people were sensitized about Vitiligo in the rural Indian village of Shirahatti located in the state of Karnataka. This was only made possible with the generous support of Youth For Seva and the Seva Mitra/ Seva Ratis from Hindu Seva Prathishthana. The village of Shirahatti is endowed with empowered women who voice their opinions freely. Each an every one of them have seen a person with Vitiligo but they were hardly aware of what it is and why white patches occur on the skin. It was an interesting experience. This was conducted on 9th March 2019 (last Saturday).
In the first half, SushAmita, the founder & volunteer of SupportVitiligo conducted a session at a government school in Shirahatti (Near Gadag). Around 60 students from 5th to 8th grade participated. We learned the Indian Sign Language Alphabet and a few basic words and phrases. Common doubts surrounding Vitiligo were explained, such as:
• What skin colour is and how is it formed?
• What are the effects of pigment on our skin?
We also spoke about the kind of solutions everyone (a person without disability or with any disability) uses on a daily basis. We distinguished between feeling sympathy for someone and understanding the other person’s situation & helping accordingly (Empathy). Students were taught the worth of satisfaction that is derived by helping someone, be it supporting at home or someone outside and how they can learn so much in the process of lending a helping hand to someone.
The second half of the session was dedicated to the people outside the school premises. Around 24 women from the village were assembled. It commenced with the SupportViitligo video which was also explained in Kannada, their native language. The discussion was a bit diverse. It elucidated topics such as:
• How we acquire our skin colour?
• How the exposure to morning sunlight (Max 20 minutes based on our comfort/ Indian skin ) is beneficial for many of us.
• What are the causes and available treatment options for Vitiligo.
• Discussion over real-life scenarios and the treatment which helped SushAmita.
It raised the awareness among locals around Vitiligo as the village also had some Vitiligo affected persons
The last batch comprised of 20 parents & 46 Children. The SupportVitiligo video and the illustration using a slate and chalk stick helped everyone understand Vitiligo better. Children enjoyed learning the Indian Sign Language.
It was a very enriching experience for all of us. Though many such rural areas are to be reached across various states in India. We look forward to spreading awareness & sensitize as many lives possible both through Online (Social media & webinars) & Offline.
Note by SushAmita (Volunteer & Founder)
Being a person with Vitiligo for past 20+ years, partially cured of Vitiligo though. My journey with Vitiligo made me realize the strong need of spreading awareness on Vitiligo in India to as many places possible through all the possible means including social media, awareness sessions, etc. One question that has always crossed my mind is every person I have met has seen someone with white patches but very few are aware of what exactly it is? How many people are actually aware of the actual facts? Trust me 90-95% of people are just curious and once we provide the right awareness, things fall into place. Of course, you will always come across a few exceptions, but this is sorted out with time because every person has their own perception. I am glad that SupportVitiligo has reached Lakhs of souls through the videos (including the #SupportVitiligo video) & various awareness initiatives. I would call myself as the chief volunteer doing what needs to be done. I have a few other volunteers who support me in this cause.