Two Dubai schoolboys went to great lengths for a good cause – after shaving their heads in support of people battling cancer.
Rishi Balakrishnan, 9, and his brother Rohan, 6, agreed to lop off their long locks in solidarity with a school pal, who was inspired to cut off her hair because her mother was undergoing chemotherapy at the time.
The siblings, who both attend Amled School Dubai, spent 18 months growing their hair before having it shaved off.
There will be more than just a fringe benefit to their efforts, because the hair has been donated to Hair for Hope India, a charity that provides wigs for those fighting cancer.
The boys' mother, Rashmi, said that it was her eldest son who had come up with the idea.
“The school was having a donation for pupils to donate their hair, after Maria Abraham, a 6-year-old pupil, had shaved off her hair to support her mother who was going through chemotherapy at the time,” Ms Balakrishnan said.
“Rishi asked me why he couldn’t take part as well and if it was only for girls? We explained to him that your hair had to be 12 inches long, which was why boys were not able to take part.”
Her son decided he would not be deterred from taking part in the appeal and spent the next 18 months growing his hair to the desired length.
“He was so worried when he heard about people suffering from cancer, especially young babies, so he wanted to take part,” she said.
“His younger brother Rohan said that he wanted to be part of it as well. So we went to the school and got permission for them to grow their hair.”
Premi Mathew, founder of Hair for Hope India, said she could not have been prouder of the example that was set by the two young brothers.
“Rohan and Rishi grew their hair for a year-and-a-half despite searing summer heat and having to face ridicule on occasions,” she said.
“They did it all with one goal in mind and that was to put smiles on the faces of chemotherapy patients.”
Rishi spoke about the challenges the boys faced to compete their 18-month long task.
“Our hair was so long that there were times when people mistook us for girls,” he said.
“When we were in shops looking for clothes people would show us to the girls’ section instead of the one for boys.”
The brothers were the only two boys to take part in the schools’ donation appeal, according to vice-principal Shiny Davison.
“We had 50 pupils and parents taking part in the hair donation, they were the only two boys,” she said.
“It all began when one of our Grade 1A pupils, Maria Abraham, wanted to shave off her own hair because her mother was going through chemotherapy and she felt her mother was lonely because people kept staring at her.
“Their hair will one adorn the head of someone undergoing treatment for cancer,” said Ms Mathew.
“Wigs help to give chemotherapy patients some confidence to face society with dignity. Many patients end up feeling depressed and unable to face society.”