Carol Sonto Makopo has been living with vitiligo since she was a child. The Mamelodi-born sufferer says it’s not been an easy journey for her – especially since the skin condition was not understood by her parents, who thought she was bewitched.
Carol says she wasn’t born with the condition that causes skin to lose colour. She started noticing blotches when she was six years old.
“I developed a white spot behind my right ear, my parents’ superstitions came to the fore. They thought I was bewitched and connected this white spot to an ancestral calling and it was then when I was taken from pillar to post, traditional healers to prophets, all over the country,” she tells Move!.
At school, kids made fun of her and it was unbearable for her to handle the stigma. The school advised her parents to take her somewhere else.
“Sadly, my mother had to relocate me from Mamelodi to Winterveld where I was put under the guardianship of my grandmother and resumed my schooling there under difficult and emotional circumstances. Understandably so because any separation, especially from your parents, is not healthy at all and all due to my skin condition,” she recalls.
Years went by and her parents passed away, her pillars of strength were gone. Carol felt isolated as, once again, students in college made fun of her. This led to her feeling depressed.
“I never thought medical-related problems and situations had an ending. At some point I had thoughts of committing suicide because I had no solution to any of my problems. It really felt like God was failing me as a person because the people I thought had my back are the ones who passed on,” she shares.
She was then referred to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria to start attending photo-therapy treatment, which improved the appearance of her skin.
“Later, in my adult stages, my skin became way lighter and all the dark areas that were all over my body disappeared. From there, I fell in love with my new skin,” she says.
The 40-year-old says she feels like her dignity has been restored.