This morning I was sitting here at my computer, clattering away at they keys when I was called outside. “Come and look at this,” I heard.
Outside was a little girl of 6 sitting at the top of the stairs, cringing into the wall. I gasped in horror as my helper and the girl’s elder sister pulled back the fabric covering her face and showed me her head.
Her hair had been roughly shaved off with a razor and her exposed scalp was completely covered in pussy sores, blood, and weeks upon weeks of crusted goo. Oh it was terrible. I cried.
The poor little thing had been suffering from terrible headlice under her long hair and her eldest brother had shaved it all off just a few hours earlier. I immediately went inside to get the phone so I could take some photos and when I came back she totally freaked out. And who could blame her?
If you read my blog on Monday you’ll remember me talking about a group of kids who’s mother had taken off 2 weeks ago with her new boyfriend (leaving no food, no money, no water). Well 6 year old Ronalin was one of those kids. The school uniform I’d bought her In August of last year was completely covered in dirt and grime, and her legs and arms had so many pussy sores. She began to cry.
And cry. And cry. She shouted for her mother. It broke our hearts as all we could do was try to navigate her into the bathroom to bathe her wounds and apply some antiseptic. But she wasn’t having any of that. When we tried picking her up, she dug those tiny little hands into anything she could find. Suddenly like a little rocket, she shot out the gate and down the road back to her house. (Though it’s not really a house, just a small wooden hut with a dirt floor).
My helper followed but when she arrived at the house, little Ronalin took off again. This time into a rice paddock, her brother and sister in pursuit as she disappeared into the long grass. She was having none of that medicine.
So this afternoon as a peace offering for taking her photo without permission I bought her two pink hats at the shop. I’m hoping also the hats might entice her to go to school tomorrow. So I walked down into the purok to find her. When some of her small brothers spotted me navigating the muddy, windy path to the house they grinned and trotted along behind me.
But Ronalin got wind of me coming and off she ran. I shouted out to her in my broken Ilonggo …
‘Ronalin, Ronalin, may regalo mo! Indi ko bulong. May regalo mo‘.
Ronalin I have a gift for you. No medicine. A gift for you.
A tiny little face hidden under piles of t-shirt fabric poked around the next-door neighbour’s house.
‘may regalo mo Ronalin‘ I repeated.
She took a step out from behind the house (now surrounded in kids and as well as her siblings).
I pulled out the two pinks hats so she could seem them. She stared, giving nothing away as she took a few steps closer to the hats and squatted on the ground.
She let me untie the thick fabric and t-shirt she’d wrapped around her head. My heart melted when she gave a faint smile as I gently placed one of her ‘Hello Kitty‘ little pink hats onto her damaged head.
It was a perfect fit.
© 2018 Melinda J. Irvine