Photography by Baveesha Photography
Story by Baveesha Naran
So you all know I have a new found passion for mountain biking, I never thought that a trail would ever lead me to my next Vitiligo story. This story is so exciting for me… here goes :
As I was riding in the beautiful trails of Kroonstad... I came across a young lady washing dishes with her mum outside, in the sun. I spotted from a distance that she had vitiligo, this intrigued me and I rode towards her. When I got there, I introduced myself... She was so beautiful, a smile of perfection, she had this cute patch of Vitiligo in the middle of her forehead, from which her hair also had a streak of blond hair. Total cuteness, it suited her so well. She, like myself, also had Vitiligo on her legs.
I began telling her that i too have Vitiligo... and lift my cycling tights to show her. She was so shocked and excited. She just shouted "WOW, you have it too". I ask her if she's comfortable with her vitiligo and does she wear shorts and dresses. She smile and said... "No I can never" I only show them at home. I can't show them anywhere else." I felt this sadness as I knew first hand what she’s going through. I told her all about LOVEauthentic, and what we are trying to do. I explained that we were trying to raise awareness to help those that are struggling with accepting themselves. I showed her pics of Alvina, Wayne and Preshiela, this excited her so much. I told her that I'll be going to lunch once i was done with the trail and asked if she’d like to join me. She agreed, this left me so excited. I hurried back, so I could pick her up.
Before we went for lunch, I asked her if she wanted me to do a shoot of her... she was excited. Since we both didn't have shorts, and I didn’t want her feeling conscious... I suggested that we both lift our track pants. The magic began thereafter... we both just laughed as we did this. I took pics of her and showed her how stunning she looked. She mentioned that she also had Vitiligo on her stomach, I asked if she was willing to take a pic of it... she said "yes yes". And then came one of my favourite pics (below). We were both so thrilled, I clicked away for an hour. During the shoot I asked if she was ok? Does she feel conscious? She said “no.. I feel great because you here.”
What a beautiful moment... so blessed I've been.
We then headed for lunch. I shared my story, told her how I battled to accept my Vitiligo, I lived in fear for so long, how I thought people would judge me. I than told her all about the first day I wore my shorts. How it felt like true freedom. How it made me realize that I'm missing out on life. I asked if she's considered ever showing off her vitiligo. She just laughed... and looked at me like i was crazy. Like that possibility was not an option. I could feel the pain hidden behind her laughter. I had been there, I remember thinking I was cursed and hated my life. I said, " my beautiful angel, you're so special, you're so gorgeous, I waited 31 years before I started living proudly with my vitiligo. Ever since I took that step, my life has changed for the better.... I'm so happy and free now. Please my friend, you're 21 now, don't wait until you're 30. I can help you through this, because i've done it through small baby steps. When u ready... let's talk about it and start slowly... one step at a time. I know you can do this. We met so I can help you." .. she smiled and we shared a huge hug.
Wow and that was my day with Matefo Koloko. Will remember it forever.
The next day she called me. She was ecstatic, she told me that she had told everyone about us meeting. Everyone's so jealous that they weren't around. She thanked me for coming through and meeting her. At the end she said, "thank you and I love you so much".
That brought me to tears. I knew at that moment that we had started LOVEauthentic for this exact reason. To help all those struggling out there...
A month later I contacted Matefo. We caught up and eventually I asked her, when she was going to wear her shorts for the first time .... she said, “ you not going believe this, this past weekend I wore a dress to church.” Omg ... we both started screaming with excitement. I couldn't believe what I had heard, we laughed and she told me all about. Sharing in that excitement was so so special. She said I had helped her change life and that she was so grateful. I just cried … this is so BIG. I myself am so grateful to have been able to help.
I would have started this years ago had I known the gravity of its impact on others. Better late than never, though.
BABY steps lead to GIANT leaps … take the first step today.
It's been a beautiful journey. Meeting each one of you has been so special . I’m super excited for what lies ahead. LOVEauthentic today is a huge success because of all the love and support from every person out there. Thank you to everyone. Love love love you all.
CLICK ON PICTURE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGES
Story by Baveesha Naran
Photography by Kashmira Naran
Being in Clarens for our 2nd mountain bike challenge was so exciting. The most special moment of our trip was when we met for breakfast and everyone had our orange LOVEauthentic Tshirts on. It brought tears of joy to my eyes. We all looked amazingly united. I am so grateful to all that came along to be part of this experience. Each and every person here, wore these t-shirts with such pride and joy and that totally made my day. There was no convincing involved, everyone just did so because they felt passionate about the cause themselves.
Our group included 4 riders and 6 supporters. Each rider came with very specific personal goals to achieve, which we all successfully completed. It was so cool to see our LOVEauthentic group cheering and clapping at the end as we headed towards finish line. I could spot them a mile away and it left us riders with the warmest feeling ever. So blessed we are.
Our official partnerships/sponsorships:
1. Itumek Cycling
2. Exquisite Functions
3 Baveesha Photography
LOVEauthentic thanks you for getting on board and assisting us in achieving our goals.
I will share an intro to each sponsor soon, what they're all about and why they're supporting our cause.
Thank you all for reading, I wish you were there for this experience. It was truly EPIC.
LOVE you guys ...
This year in March I found myself at the ABSA Cape Epic, in the beautiful city of Cape Town. The experience turned out to be such an awesome adventure, I pushed so many new boundaries, I had so many new experiences and met such wholesome people along the way. So Absa Cape Epic is the most televised mountain bike stage race in the world, it takes place over eight days and is classed as hors catégorie ( a French term used in cycle races to designate a climb that is "beyond categorization", or an incredibly tough climb) by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). 600 teams or 1200 riders participate every year. This year the total distance was 748km. I went as a volunteer and was station at Waterpoint 3. I went specifically because of my love for photography and mountain biking. My photography experience was phenomenal, I believe the pictures I captured, I could not have captured anywhere else in the world (www.baveesha.com). I feel so grateful to have got that opportunity. On the other hand, this experience sparked a new dream. I watched riders, big and small, struggle, laugh, fight, cry, hope, pray and really dig deep to make it to the end of the 8 day race. Only hard work, strong will and true determination could get one there and ready to take on the beautiful yet so steep mountains. In the beginning I saw it as craziness, but by Day 8, I knew I’d ride this race one day.
Soon after I decided that :
I’ll return to the CAPE EPIC as a rider in 2017. I’ll do it for our cause, to raise awareness for LOVEauthentic | My Vitiligo Campaign.
This gives me 2 years to train, to go from cycling 20km in 2h30min to cycling in excess of 700km over 8days at the ABSA CAPE EPIC.
It was so amazing how doing it for my LOVEauthentic | My Vitiligo Campaign changed my outlook of this massive task. It made it worthwhile, gave the dream a new drive and the forward force it needed. I’ll do this to bring awareness to LOVEauthentic | My VITILIGO Campaign and ride to remind all “LOVE THE AUTHENTIC YOU”
I’m super excited about what lies ahead. Here’s some pics of my Cape Epic Experience.
A must share, is that, I went to rider the registration day in shorts. I thought to myself, that “I knew nobody here, let me go in the truest form of me and hide nothing”.
Another first, CONQUERED.
I am so glad I did, because thereafter I was so comfortable. The beauty of just being you, is so powerful and serene.
Photography by Baveesha Photography
Story by Alvina Motilall
MY STORY | My name is Alvina Motilall I am 19 years old and I have had vitiligo from the age of 3 . To me it is my whole life, because I can never remember being without my patches. Being so small when I first had it, it did not really have much of an effect on me because I was too small to really know what was going on, all I knew Is that I looked different compared to the rest of my family, and occasionally tried to scrub off the patches or hoped it will heal overnight. As I grew up I began to realize I am DIFFERENT and noticed how the rest of the world reacted to me, this affected me a lot which most of my family are unaware of because I have always been absolutely confident and walked with my head held high but as I entered my teen years it began to affect me. I’ve been on treatment from the age of 3 I have been fully white, patchy with more white, patchy with less white and almost fully brown, which nobody can ever remember, including me, because everyone gets used to my appearance every year. In 2006 I decided to write about me for an English speech which my mother was not very keen on but I was determined to share with my friends how I truly felt, as I wrote I realized wow these patches define me, it is who “I” AM and I decided to name my speech MY PROUDEST MOMENT which was when I didn’t feel different. And I have now written 4 speeches which has impacted many people and gained a lot of recognition in Durban.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST STRUGGLE WITH VITILGO, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
To be honest I never really had a big struggle with vitiligo. I had my days where I felt down because somebody picked on me or I wanted to be like my sister ‘ONE COLOUR”, but I guess I have my FAMILY and friends to thank for not struggling. They treated me equally and supported me in everything I wanted to do. I look up especially to my mum, my dad and my sister Ashmeika who has overcome many struggles of her own. My aunt Pricilla also has Vitiligo, she is completely white and has been a great inspiration. Lastly if it was not for my cousins Vash, Les and Marlene, I would have not made it through my schooling career. In the year 2007 I began to reach out to other kids who were embarrassed about having vitiligo and helped them overcome this. I shared my speeches with people who realized that treating people who are different equally, is good. I also decided that instead of crying and bringing myself down I would confront those who would pick on me and make them understand, what it felt like to be in my position. I am proud to say I changed the way many students think and treat people in my primary and high school. I always wanted to reach out to more people and with the help of LOVEauthentic I am now able to achieve my goals , once again my name is Alvina Motilall and I am proud to be DIFFERENT.
WHAT ARE THE LESSONS OR MOTIVATIONS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH ALL
Never give anyone the opportunity to bring you down, if you bring yourself down you are just giving another person leverage to bring you down more, love yourself and learn to embrace your flaws.
To make vitiligo fun do what I do with my cousins find cool patches ,I’ve found a Pac-man and a heart and I think that’s pretty cool I mean who else can say they have cool and amazing tattoos that change as years go pass.
Photography by Kashmira Naran
Story by Baveesha Naran
Thanks for being here. Thanks for supporting our initiatives.