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Published: November 8th 2006
The girls trying out a face mask for the first time
This trip had a theme and focus for the children who attend the Lifestart Foundation Free School. The aim was to teach the children how to take care of their bodies and look after themselves. I knew in advance that we had an outbreak of nits at our school, so this was the first problem that needed to be addressed. The kids refer to nits as having animals in their head...this somehow conjures up a pretty weird picture in my mind! (And also makes me start to itch!)
Anyway, Lifestart volunteers Marelyn and Robyn went armed and prepared with products from Australia to eliminate the little critters. The nits were attacked on day one and every subsequent day thereafter for the duration of Marelyn’s and Robyn’s trip! I think that in the end, they got to a point where they were praying for a nit-free day, but it never came...
I know they were dreaming about nits by the end of the trip, and probably cursing me at the same time, if the truth be known. After treating all the children at the school, it was then necessary to treat all their family members, and it didn't take long
Peta getting a hand and shoulder massage
before Marelyn and Robyn were affectionately being called the community “head doctors!” They had requests from many people in the community for a “head inspection!” It appeared that everyone wanted a clean head.
They trained two of our older students, Hue and Thuong, in the art of nit elimination, and they have been given the job of “nit inspectors and chief head doctors” in Marelyn’s and Robyn’s absence!
As a follow-on to the nits and dental focus, I thought we needed to lighten things up just a little.
Peta, who is one of our volunteers and a beauty therapist in Australia, ran a five-night beauty program for two groups of our girls. The five-night program taught the girls how to do a manicure, pedicure, facial, and head and shoulder massage and also focused on personal hygiene and grooming. This was a great program for the girls; they absolutely loved it, and we had a lot of much-needed fun and laughter on these nights. Peta had brought a lot of products over with her from Australia, and the girls all received a complete beauty and personal hygiene kit. These five nights also gave us a chance to work
Robyn aka "head doctor"
with the girls one on one and to further strengthen the relationships and rapport that we are trying to build with them. It was great watching their confidence blossom during this program.
Given that many of the girls will eventually try to find employment in the hospitality industry, it is essential that they learn all about personal grooming and presentation so as to maximize their chance of a trainee ship position when that all-important interview takes place.
This was definitely a class I looked forward to at the end of the day, especially when I was the “guinea pig” for head and shoulder massages!
It also became apparent on this trip that quite a few of the children had poor eyesight and needed glasses, so it was off to the optometrist. Several of the kids are now sporting a “new look” which they quite like. They wear their glasses with pride, and some of them told me they feel more intelligent wearing glasses. I think what they mean is that it gives them a studious look. I also suppose that if you are poor, it is not the “norm” to wear glasses. They are usually seen as
a sign of wealth. It's a bit like if you are overweight—this, too, is seen as a sign of wealth, as it means you can afford a lot of rice...
Travelers Tips: donations of soap and deodorants would be most welcome.
Lots of Love from Karen.
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