I helped one of our students cut the hair of a little boy named Vicente. He was 13-years-old and wanted his hair to look just like the famous Brazilian futbol player Ronaldinho, and he achieved his goal! He came with three of his five younger siblings. His youngest sister was getting her hair cut by another student when we noticed she had a very bad case of lice. Worse than any of the other cases we had seen, we went to see if there was anything we could do to help this little girl. As we combed gently through her small head of hair to examine her scalp, it was totally white with the infestation of lice. Her scalp was covered. We immediately went to purchase special shampoo at the local market to treat her. We took her to the bathroom to clean her hair and we even found small spiders embedded in her scalp. Vicente stayed by his little sister’s side the whole time, comforting her and reassuring her that she was being taken care of. When the shampoo treatment was completed, we brought her up to a chair to do her haircut. This sweet little girl smiled and said she smelled like a princess.
As her hair was cut, I sat with Vicente and one of our wonderful interpreters. We wanted to find out more about these children and why the lice had become as bad as it did. Vicente told us they ran out of shampoo six months ago. This little girl had been living this way for months now and the discomfort had become normal. His mother, like many single mothers, was single and struggling to provide for her kids. As a result of their mother’s absence in finding work, this 13-year-old boy dropped out of school and began caring for his siblings on his own. His mother has been married four times, each husband more abusive than the last. The children all agreed that they prefer it when they have no daddy and only Vicente takes care of them.
As we were talking to the kids, the little girl was glowing because she was so happy that her head didn’t hurt anymore. Vicente, proud, promised her that she would finally be able to sleep at night because her hair was all better.
We asked what he wanted to be when he grows up. We wanted to know his goals. We wanted to know his dreams. He said he wanted to be a fireman. It was the first time he smiled all day.When the little girl’s haircut was all done, her lice treatment was complete, and we took her to blow dry, Vicente asked one of our instructors if she would show him how to blow dry so he could style his little sister’s hair. We worked with him, and taught him to use the round brush. He picked it up quicker than most cosmetology students do in America!
We put together a care package for him to take home with shampoo, conditioner, lice medication, combs, and of course, the round brush! He was so thankful. We invited him back to class the next week so that we could show him other ways to be able to care for his little sister’s hair, his hygiene, and the hygiene of his five younger siblings.