Home Stories Journal

Stories

...I accept myself and smile, one patch at a time....
- Elizabeth Wangui
Nominated MCA, Nyeri County

My name is Elizabeth Wangui Njee and I am a nominated member of the Nyeri county assembly, I have been living with a rare skin condition, known as vitiligo, since I was a teenager.

When I was 15-years-old at Pangani Girls High School, one of my classmates looked at my face and told me to wipe off a white spot that was under my eye. At the time we both thought it was chalk but after several attempts to clean my face, the spot did not go away and I had no choice but to go to the school nurse to seek assistance. She then referred me to a doctor and after several months, several trips to doctors and skin specialists they confirmed that I had skin a condition called vitiligo.

It is a genetic condition in which the pigment cells of the skin, melanocytes, are destroyed in certain areas. Symptoms and signs of vitiligo include loss of skin color in the form of depigmented, or white, patches of skin in any location on the body.

People with vitiligo are often mis-diagnosed as having albinism yet there is a world of difference between these two conditions.

After high school, my condition worsened and my skin became patchy, it was a very difficult situation to accept especially because I was just a teen and I soon realised that my skin condition was going to affect how boys saw me.

Being self-conscious of my condition I spent years trying to get a cure for it. I also went to the extent of trying to trace any relatives who might have the same condition but I found out I was the only one. As is the case with genetic disorders, the genes could have been dormant for decades and then passed on to me, where they then became dominant and manifested the symptoms.

It was a difficult journey for me as a young woman to take and I tried all sorts of remedies to the extent I nearly jeopardised my health.

I eventually gave up and started to accept my condition. In 2012, I decided to go into politics and after the general election in 2013, I was nominated as a member of the Nyeri county assembly. This gave me a platform to address the plight of people living with vitiligo and albinism and one of the first things I did is push to have sunscreen lotion and lip balm provided to them free at the county level.

 

 

Today when you look at me, you can see a brightness in my eyes and I can tell you it comes from me learning how to accept myself. I still do have some low moments but I have learned to let God grant me the strength to face each day.

Courtesy : Standard Media

...You will find that sometimes, most people will not want to ride with me due to the state of my skin...
- Abila
Bodaboda Operator, Nairobi County

I am Abila and I am a  bodaboda operator (public transport motorbikes) around the Nairobi Central Business District. I was diagnosed with this condition when I was still young.

It has affected me emotionally, psychologically and even in business. You will find that sometimes, most people will not want to ride with me due to the state of my skin.

Most people are not familiar with this disease and even some think it is infectious. Someone once asked me if I was infected with HIV/AIDs.

Despite all that, I have managed to rise above the negativity and I now inform my passengers about the condition whenever I get a chance.

Vitiligo is Beautiful.

...I often get bullied at school and it is very hard...
- Lilian Makena
7 Year Old Student, Isiolo County

My name is Lilian. I am a 7 year old from Isiolo. I started getting patches around my eyes when I was younger and I did not understand what they were.

I often get bullied at school and it is very hard.

My mom has helped me understand the condition and I try to smile even when it is hard sometimes.

...This condition is only skin deep ...
- Emily Ndunge
From Machakos County

I am Emily from Machakos and I live with a skin condition called Vitiligo.

The state of my skin makes it very hard for me to find work since most people are afraid to look at me. There is also this insane belief among some ignorant and backward people that those with very advanced vitiligo like mine and albinism make for a great addition in some rituals. It scares me!

This condition is only skin deep and we do everything else that normal people do.

 

...With time, you learn to grow a thick skin...
- Allen Chejema
Businessperson, Mombasa County

I am a businessman from Mombasa County and I have vitiligo.

Most people ask me what it is, or if I am burned or why my skin is peeling  off. I know it is because most of them have no clue what this is.

It affects my day to day life since I get ridicule and even insults from total strangers. With time, you learn to grow a thick skin and when someone gives you the chance, you always take it to inform them. It is not infectious, it is not something you catch like a cold.

It is a condition of the skin that you are born with.

Vitiligo is beautiful
- Richard
Security guard , Nairobi
Vitiligo is beautiful🌻!
Today’s sunscreen distribution,meet Richard he is a security guard with Guadword security.He has learnt to embrace living with Vitiligo and is happy❣️!
#vitiligoambassadorkenya❤🇰🇪
#vitiligoisbeautiful