I have been in Casa Main for almost 5 1/2 months. I have seen girls change for the better and change for the worse. Girls have run away and never come back while others come running home after they realize they made a mistake. I have seen many things in my time here but one girls in particular really shined today.
One month ago she was shy and timid. She has a beautiful smile but had a hard time letting it out. She wanted love but didn’t quite know how to ask for it. She would give me hugs but never say much. I even found myself commenting to the other volunteers that I think something is wrong with her. We have a lot of girls who are mentally damaged from their past and I thought that she was one of them.
Her life was changed drastically when Sor Ines took Maria Belen and cut off all her hair. She was left with about an inch of hair on her head. She was known to have really bad lice but I never took the time to really look at it. Her hair had already been cut to her shoulders to try and control it.
What they discovered on her head is unexplainable and the Doctor said not normal. Her lice was so out of control she was left with one giant hole in her head along with many other small ones. This might be a little graphic but it is worst than I can even put into words. But this explained so much to me about her as a person.
She was timid, shy, quiet but did her best to have a smile on her face. Now that her pain has been relieved she walks around with a different mentality. She is embarrassed because she doesn’t have any hair but she is no longer in pain. I have never seen such a big smile and so much love and joy beaming from ones eyes.
The problem is that she isn’t fully healed. She still has lice and eggs in the little hair that she has. The Sisters threatened to cut off ALL her hair if she can’t take care of herself. I am talking about they want to shave her head BALD!
The problem with lice is that it is impossible to fix by yourself. Her hair is too short to use a comb and the Sisters don’t provide the girls with lice shampoo. She has to have someone help her pick her lice out. But when you have holes in your head no one wants to even touch you. Maria Belen’s only friends in the Hogar left for vacation. Leaving her with no one to help and the girls just making fun of her.
At lunch we had a discussion about how bad her head is and how bad we feel for her. I even made a comment that I wouldn’t be able to pick her lice because i’m afraid. Later in the day I was walking to watch a movie with the little girls and passed by Maria Belen. She gave me a huge smile before I could even say a word and asked me how I am doing. She grabbed for my hand just to get a little love and attention.
At that very moment I realized Maria Belen is not a leper but just another child of God. That I am the lucky one to have her in my life. Without even a thought I asked her if I could help by taking out her lice. She again gave me that wonderful smile but asked “are you sure you want to do that?” I grabbed her hand and off we went.
All my fears and worries escaped my mind as soon as I saw her smile. I knew what I needed to be doing and it wasn’t watching a movie but taking action in helping her get her hair back and more importantly healthy. We talked about her family and her brothers who are in other Hogars. We have talked before but never at the level that we reached today. She was so willing to share with me stories and her life.
At one point she asked me what type of person I think she is. If she was pretty, smart, nice, stupid, or ugly. I told her how amazing she truly is and that if other people can’t see that it is their loss (in my horrible spanish of course.)
When I did as much as I could I told her that I will help her any other day that she would like. She turned to look me in the eyes and thanked me. I never knew a thank you for taking out someone lice would feel so good. The girls are afraid to help her and all she wants is to get better.
I thought that I had learned all that these girls could teach me. But I am still learning a new thing every day. I am counting the days until I go home because I miss everyone. I am also counting the days to remind myself that I have to live every day to the fullest because they are my last here in Bolivia. I will never have this chance again to spend 6 months in a foreign country and truly live out God’s needs. I am happy to go home to my family, fiance and friends. But I am terribly sad because I have fallen in love with some of these girls and don’t want to leave them.