Now I know you are probably assuming from the title that I have now become infested with headlice, luckily this is not the case.
It was our final couple of days of working in villages with SVPI. The village we went to needed a bit of help digging a long trench out to lay pipes in, which would provide them with access to clean drinking water. A very important job!
First we went to visit the local day centre where little kids go, allowing their parents to work without the stress of worrying that the children are lost in the jungle in danger of bumping into Rhinos. Very different concerns to those of families back home in the uk. The day centre is just a very basic building with a few educational posters on the wall and a mass of wide eyed curious little children running around inside. I was apprehensive as usual whenever I have to hang out with little kids, or big kids. But I need not have feared, they were pretty cute, especially one girl who was sporting a lovely grey iPhone jumper. We all took a shine to her and nicknamed her apple. They took it in turns to do an alphabet including English words and Nepalese words. When it was Apple’s turn she would point to each word say it very slowly and turn round and shoot us all a cheeky smile ☺️
We all tried to get stuck in digging the trench and the locals were digging away too. Gradually the local people (including elderly people and pregnant ladies) would take over from us and do a super impressive job after we had all made a good effort. We packed up on the first day patting ourselves on the back, we walked round the corner and saw the rest of the trench plotted out for digging the next day! There was still a lot of work to be done.
On the second day we drove right down to the river at the same village. We would be providing a first aid area, hand washing and headlice sessions, tooth brushing sessions and men’s and women’s health discussions. I had done most areas previously apart from hand washing and headlice treatment. So I decided to do this on my last day of work. This involved a lot of interaction with the children again.
I took a deep breath and approached the children, bars of soap in hand. They were great and I could tell they had received hand washing sessions before. There was one shy little girl, a bit reluctant to wash her feet. This was my big moment. I picked her up ( I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a child before, I was surprised how light she was/how strong I am), I sat her on my knee at the river edge and gave her feet a good wash before putting her shoes back on and sending her to the headlice treatment area. I was pretty proud of myself, she didn’t cry or run away 😊
Then I tried my hand at head lice treatment. This involves massaging into hair a mixture of mustard seed and water, leaving for a few minutes and rinsing before applying oil and combing out. I found myself a child who had already had mustard rubbed in their hair (I knew this because she smelt like a mild mustard salad dressing). She was so trusting and let me wash her hair and comb through oil; I remember when my mum would do my hair and I would kick up such a fuss. I asked the girl what her name was, I didn’t understand what she said in response, but she smiled and walked off. Another job well done!
I caught up with the rest of the group who had been doing the women’s health discussion. They had found one woman suffering a severe prolapse who would now be going to hospital for corrective surgery. Another woman approached me holding her little girl. She held out the girl’s hands, showing us some burn scars which had healed fusing some of her fingers and her thumbs together. This was highlighted to the group and she also will now hopefully receive corrective surgery which will obviously improve her quality of life significantly in the long run.
It was such a great last day of health work, topped off with a palatable lunch of cheese and tomato toasties and mango juice 😊. I spent my evening with a few of the other volunteers playing charades and busting out some pretty great animal impressions.
Life is grrrrrreat (a super tiger impression see 😉) x