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World Vitiligo Day more than skin deep

“Vitiligo is not contagious. It’s not race and can affect anyone. There’s unfortunately no cure yet and can it be triggered by stress.”

The founder of the Love Authentic NPO and vitiligo ambassador, Baveesha Naran, struggled with low self-esteem and embarrassment after learning she had the chronic autoimmune disorder.

Naran has lived with the condition for almost 30 years and hid it for 20, which led to depression, anxiety and stress.

“My vitiligo started in my late primary school years. I had a small spot on my leg. In high school, someone kicked me on my right leg. When it healed, it left a white mark. It started spreading from that point,” Naran explained.

Baveesha Naran (right) with ith her sisters Tejal and Reshma and Nephew Mishay Kila.

She joined thousands of others who observed World Vitiligo Day on June 25, which aims to build global awareness about vitiligo.

The Vitiligo Society of South Africa (VSSA) describes the condition as an autoimmune disease that destroys its own pigment cells, making the skin look white in some areas.

“Vitiligo is not contagious. It’s not race and can affect anyone. Unfortunately, there is no cure yet, and stress can trigger it,” said Naran.

Baveesha Naran is the founder of Love Authentic.

Naran, from Lakefield, said she has had to deal with much stigma, and the condition proved to be a barrier to romantic relationships and employment.

“The confidence to enter into relationships is a challenge. Finding employment is difficult for people like us, who look different.

“We often avoid places or social situations due to fear of ridicule, stares and judgements,” she said, adding that for most people, it is hard to live with vitiligo.

Love Authentic also hosts community outreach programmes to create vitiligo awareness.

“The acceptance journey takes time and can only be possible with the help of your loved ones, friends and family.”

Love Authentic, which in full is Love the Authentic You, helps those struggling with acceptance of the disease and promotes a healthier lifestyle through sporting activities like cycling to help with mental health wellness.

“We’ve hosted six World Vitiligo Day events and exhibited vitiligo photography projects at market photo workshops and vitiligo events in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.”

The members of the Viking Cycling Club in support of Love Authentic SA.

“We constantly get involved in events to increase visibility. We host online support, information and empowerment sessions for people with vitiligo. We also host cycling sessions in Ekurhuleni for kids and beginners to grow the sport.”

If you live with vitiligo and struggle with acceptance or want to create awareness, reach out to Love Authentic on 083 565 2422 or follow them on @loveauthentic.co.za on Instagram, LOVEauthenticsa on Facebook or go to www.loveauthentic.co.za for more info.

Also Read: Hand cyclists pedal five countries for a good cause

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