Sunday, December 26, 2010

Student, Orphan, HIV/AIDS, MACODEF, Western Kenya, March, 2007

So we walk from one school to another, from one town to another and from one church to another. One variable that seems less than variable is a shaved head. Almost every single child, especially the young, wears a shaved head.

The people from the foundation tell me that this is to lower the presence of lice. While most do come to school shaved, a few children have a considerable amount of hair. The same people from the foundation tell me that certain families are better situated financially and are able to maintain their children's hygiene more easily. Should they be able to prove such care, then their child is able to retain their hair.

On one occasion, we walk by a home where a mother is shaving her child's head with a razor blade. She is holding the blade in her bare hand and coating her child's head in soap water. The shaving occurs over a tub of water and the child holds herself extremely still. The sound of the blade against bare skin is similar to sand paper on metal.

She notices us to the side, smiles and continues with the shave without a second's hesitation.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Lice are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that feed on your blood. Lice are easily spread — especially by schoolchildren — through close personal contact and by sharing belongings.