Getting rid of head lice (or piojos in Spanish) is no easy feat. At the beginning of 2019, mothers, teachers, and student council members from Xesampual made eradicating head lice their top hygiene goal for the year and Mil Milagros’ Community Coordinators were eager to help.
“One of our main objectives was to improve the hygiene in our school. This included getting rid of lice.” says Xesampual principal, Servando. “We want our students to feel healthy so they can concentrate in class and keep studying. When the children have lice it can lead to infections and they miss school. It can also lead to bullying from other students. A child with good hygiene is accepted by their peers which helps their mental and physical health.”
In Xesampual, 20% of students had head lice at the beginning of 2019, which would have spread considerably without intervention. One student's lice was so severe it caused terrible sores on her head.
“When we first went to the school, the children were worried about their lice,” says Community Coordinator, Yolanda. “We reassured them that there was nothing to be embarrassed about.”
Getting rid of the lice was a year-long process which began with meticulously combing through each child’s hair to identify which children need to be treated. Then, led by mother leaders and Community Coordinators, the community conducted three shampoo clinics throughout the year. Each student’s hair was washed with special shampoo and combed through to make sure all the eggs and lice were gone. Community Coordinators taught mothers how to wash and comb the children’s hair and the importance of washing toys, linen, and clothes to make sure their homes and family were also free of lice.
“We learned that applying the special shampoo is very important to kill the lice. Lice are very contagious and can make the children’s heads bleed from the itching. Then they don’t want to come to school or study,” says Filomena, a mother leader in Xesampual. “I tell other parents to dedicate time to checking their children’s hair and to wash and comb their hair regularly.”
Through hard work and perseverance, when the year came to a close Community Coordinators were thrilled to report that there were no more itchy heads in sight. With such a large amount of students having lice at the beginning of the year, this was a huge achievement for the community.
“The children are really excited when they see us,” says Yolanda. “They say ‘Look, I don’t have lice anymore!’”
“Thanks to Mil Milagros and the commitment of the mothers, teachers, and the children, we were able to eradicate lice from our school,” says principal Servando. “I have seen children become more accepted by their peers and we have a much healthier, happier school environment.”
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