A(nother) Good Hair Day
Do you remember MiBya? She is one of the hard stories in our village. Back in October 2005 we wrote this story:
She [Mi Bya] is a particularly tough case, and lives in a difficult home in our village. We never see her smile and although she is intrigued by us "pa la" she usually observes us from a distance. Like many children in Akha villages she has very short hair (lice & scabies). She was watching all the girls and their fancy hair braids and was just stoic in her observations. Our hearts were broken and we knew we had to do something for her. Lori remembered she had a handkerchief in our house that she might be able to use. We pulled her aside and made a big deal out of her new "hair". Once it sunk in that we really thought she was a beautiful little girl, she ran off. When she came back she had cleaned herself all up and had put on a dress! This little girl who never smiled was grinning from ear to ear for days - knowing that she truly is lovely.
Well we have since grown to know both MiBya and her little brother much better. They have a really difficult home life. Their mother is mentally ill, we are guessing the mental equivalent of a six-year old, and their father is flighty - often leaving for days at a time. We watched and helped as best we could this past summer as MiBya was taking care of her little brother all by herself. We even tried to get them into a home to care for them but the family has no paperwork, no record of any births.
As we struggled through that difficult summer, we were encouraged to see the village step in and care for the family. On one occasion when the father had run off, a girl from the village invited the kids to stay with her. This is one of the joys of living in a Christian Akha village.
Things have stablized a little, and although things are still rough at home, MiBya is able to go to school in Mae Salong. She loves school and is very bright.
The other night, she came to our home and said "My teacher says I need a haircut". In Thailand all the schoolchildren wear uniforms, the boys have very short hair and the girls must have their hair cut above their earlobes and collars.
Lori, being the incredibly skilled woman that she is, pulled out her scissors and hair clips and went to work. An hour later (it was the first schoolgirl haircut Lori has ever given) MiBya was a different girl. The little crewcut girl from our Good Hair Day is growing into a beautiful young Akha. We literally don't recognize her anymore as she walks up to us with her great haircut and an even better smile.