Without donations a wig for a child, which is very important for a little one with cancer, would cost HUF 100,000.
The campaign that aims to collect hair donations in order to prepare wigs from high quality real hair for children suffering from cancer was launched three years ago. In many cases, it is healthy kids who help their ill fellows in this way.
SZOMBATHELY “My cousin had very long hair, and she asked to find out how she could sell it as a raw material for wigs”, says Dóri Mák. “I started searching on the internet when I eventually came across with a call: somebody was looking for hair donations to prepare a wig for a five-year-old little girl. My son was four and a half year old at that time, so being a mother I could imagine her parents’ situation. I made my decision at once and had my 57-centimetre-long hair cut and offered my locks to the family. I thought that I could grow my hair again, but for the little girl it might be easier to endure the ordeals of her disease. At that time, I decided to have my hair cut short again when it would grow long, but seeing that it was too short I made up my mind and established a social networking group under the name “Lock that worth a treasure for others” in order to find three or four other volunteers so that not only one but at least two wigs could be prepared. What has happened since then is the best and most memorable experience of my whole life: several hairdressers volunteered at once to cut people’s hair free of any charge, and for a period of a month as many as 150 people had their hair cut in this way in Szombathely and its environs. It was mainly children but mothers and fathers also arrived. The parents of a four-year-old girl had been unable to convince their daughter to have her hair cut before, but when her mother told her about this opportunity, she herself asked her mum to take her to the hairdresser. She has been our youngest donor so far.”
In Hungary some 320 children are diagnosed with cancer every year. Unfortunately, these children lose their hair as a side-effect of chemotherapy or radiation treatment. The campaign was the idea of Gabriella Dömény, owner of the hairdressing salon Island with Locks of Hair. She had seen similar initiations abroad, and as it quickly turned out there are lots of sensitive and helpful children and families in Hungary as well who understand how much good they can do with a simple haircut. Three years ago, she launched the campaign “A Lock of hair from you is a precious gift for them”.
“The real heroes of the program are those children who decide to have their long hair cut and with their parents’ help offer it to the Children Cancer Foundation”, Gabriella Dömény said. “It is very moving to see what children think about helping others. One of them asked their parents to bring her to Debrecen as a birthday present so that she could donate her hair, and she has been growing it ever since so as to be able to help even more ill children. The majority of children with cancer who have lost their hair would like to have a wig that is very similar to their former hair. That is why we need every type of hair with the exception of dyed and damaged one. Due to the technology of wig-making, the length of the hair is very important too, and locks have to be 30 centimetres long at least to make a wig. I am very happy to see that more and more people join our campaign, and that adult hairdresser salons also indicate when people arrive to have a free haircut.”
She helps children at 75
Mrs János Varga, Marika has been preparing wigs for 58 year. For ill children she does it for free. She was 12 years old when she visited one of her relatives at the National Theatre, and Tamás Major asked her what she would like to do in the future. She could not answer, but she liked the wig collection in the theatre so much that she decided to learn to become a wigmaker.
“I started learning how to prepare wigs at the National Theatre in 1957, starting from sewing the base to making different hairstyles, and I have a qualification in women, men and children’s hairdressing as well. Later I moved to Vígszínház and gained more experience at the television and the film factory, after which I started to make wigs other than theatrical ones. I also worked as am instructor teaching how to make wigs, but unfortunately the number of wigmakers is on the decline, the profession is slowly fading away, that is why I still want to help ill children.”
Mrs János Varga said that any kind of hair may be used to prepare wigs for children unless dyed or greying one. The raw hair is selected, cut into size, and then laced into a material made of lace thread by thread so that it would look more natural. It takes about 4 or 5 days to prepare a wig depending on the length, and it would cost somewhere between HUF 100–300,000 without donations. It is not only the children who help but Mrs János Varga as well who works for free to ensure that children could have a natural-looking wig.
“Wigs that are made of synthetic fibres are worn out very quickly, they are warm and children do not really like them. But nobody develops allergy to natural human hair, and it is more comfortable to wear. Most little girls would like to have long hair, and they are very happy if they do not have to walk without any hair after the treatments until their hair grow back to normal again. This is a moving job, and now at 75 I still learn a lot from those little ones who come to my salon, but I would certainly be happier to prepare them a wig for any other reason.”