Beauty is skin-deep
On World Vitiligo Day, Kandivali-based non-profit helmed by a 23-year-old to host an event that hopes to help patients fight psychological stress
When Akash Tiwari was 18, he noticed that his skin started losing colour and white patches started to appear. It meant that the pigment-producing cells or melanocytes had either died or stopped producing melanin. It also meant that his condition — vitiligo — was incurable. “I soon went into depression and even attempted suicide twice. And the vitiligo eventually spread to my face,” he says. Along the way, Tiwari was given many — unsolicited — explanations about his condition. He was often told by relatives, “Yeh deviji ka shraap hai”. Such misconceptions are widespread in our metropolitan city as well. “People would think that if they had a glass of water from me, they would get the disease. I also lost out on jobs because of how I looked,” Tiwari recalls.
Posters made as part of World Vitiligo Week
With the support of his friends, he managed to recoup. Tiwari also tried to find support groups in the country to help him cope better. “There were many such groups internationally. But I don’t speak English as well as they do. So, whenever they would talk about their emotions, I couldn’t understand it, let alone express it,” he recalls. Therefore, in August 2017, Tiwari started the AARUS (Ability to achieve your Responsibility with Unity and Support) Foundation based out of Kandivali. On World Vitiligo Day that falls today, he is organising an event that aims to spread vitiligo awareness, after a series of week-long activities that had people making posters and sharing selfies and motivational videos on social media.
The main event today will include talks by vitiligo model Shefali Sharma and actor and ally Rekha Rana, while Tiwari will perform a rap song titled, I am happy to have vitiligo. The evening will include a play and poetry session by participants. “I work part-time as a promoter for an organic products brand, so 80 per cent of this is self-funded. My goal is to tell people that colour doesn’t matter,” Tiwari concludes.
On: Today,2 pm to 6 pm
At: Terapanth Bhavan, Gokul Garden VWX, Kandivali East.
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