By Stefanie Glinski
At first it was just a tiny white spot on Ali’s leg; another one on his arm. The then ten-year-old didn’t think much of it, and neither did his parents. Ali, a sponsored child, continued going to school, helping at home and taking care of the family’s cattle. That was three years ago, and the family of ten was in a difficult place.
Work in the village was limited and while Ali and most of his siblings went to school, those who were older had trouble finding work, including Ali’s father Hassan, who works as a farmer.
“My father told us that he would move to Niamey, to find better work and he was also considering getting a second wife,” Ali remembers.
Polygamy is very common in Niger and while it’s not a topic that’s widely discussed, a majority of village men have at least a second wife. With low harvests and the prospects of a new wife joining the family, both Ali’s mother and siblings were alarmed. And during all of it, the spot on Ali’s leg continued to grow.
“I started to become scared of what was happening to my body,” Ali remembers. Soon it wasn’t just a spot anymore. “My leg was turning white. I didn’t know what was happening. I was in fear and in pain and I couldn’t sleep.”
Ali lives in a small village where families stay in mud huts but usually sleep under the open sky, as it gets too hot during the nights. While the village is predominantly brown, with a few green trees intercepting the landscape, the people dress in the most vibrant colours: bright yellow bows decorate the women’s dresses and skirts are made out of colourful patterns.
World Vision has been in the community for many years, and when Ali’s condition worsened, World Vision was there to support the family.
“I am 13 years now. I am taking a break from school right now, as I have to go to the hospital all the time,” Ali says. With World Vision’s help, he has seen many doctors and has been receiving medication. “I’m healthy, but my leg has turned completely white. I’m now taking medicine, and a bit of my skin has turned dark again – I hope it will all go back to normal.”
While doctors had a hard time diagnosing Ali, he is a healthy boy and seems to be having a pigmentation disorder – nothing harmful, but likely and unfortunately not reversible.
Give hope to children like Ali and sponsor a child today.