Two brothers endured years of teasing and being called “girls” to grow their stunning hair to make into wigs for kids with cancer.
Kaleb and Aaron Tekabework, 11 and nine, started growing their hair five years ago after watching a documentary about a girl who lost her hair after chemotherapy.
She received a wig from another young woman, and her reaction inspired the young boys to grow their hair and do the same.
The siblings – then seven and five – grew their curly locks until they almost reached their waist before going to the barbers for the very first time.
Their tresses were sent off to charity Wigs for Kids and the boys raised £2500 ($3,415) for children’s cancer research at Addis Ababa University College of Health Sciences.
Kaleb said: “Growing our hair for four-and-a-half years was stressful because we would always just get our hair tangled swimming and then have to stand for hours to untangle it.
“And we’ve been through a lot of bullying and teasing at school, but it also gave us a reason to explain why we were growing our hair,
“I just kept reminding myself of why I’m growing my hair, I’ve just kept going because no matter what I wanted to accomplish and reach my goal.”
The brothers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA started growing their hair in April 2016.
Senafikish said: “They were so inspired that they asked me if they can also grow and donate their hair to that little kid they saw in the movie and when I told them it was possible they immediately decided to do that.
“Ever since then their hair hasn’t been cut and is taken care of every day.”
They grew their locks until they was 19 inches long, putting up with bullies and three-hour long showers for nearly half their lives.
They were teased at school, being told they looked like girls or misgendered, but the resilient kids were never deterred from their goal.
Nurse Senafikish said: “I’d have to groom it every day for school and wash it every week, and when it gets longer and longer it gets harder to brush.”
On World Cancer Day, Aaron and Kaleb went to the barbers for the first time in their lives, to have their hair ceremonially chopped and donated.
Aaron said: “We pretty much just got a haircut, but it was our first time in a barber shop so we were a bit nervous, at the end it was pretty fun though.
“We took a picture with our hair saying goodbye I’ll miss you!”
Wigs For Kids lets them track the hair and where it ends up.
“I want to meet them because the only thing I’ve been thinking about for the past four-and-a-half years was meeting the person and seeing them smile!” said Aaron.
They are going to grow their hair long for more wigs – but are going to have a break to try out some new styles first.
Kaleb said: “I’m probably going to wait one or two years so I can try different types of hairstyles, because the only types I’ve had so far are ponytails!”
“We look like boys now!” added Aaron.
Mother Senafikish is very proud of her sons determination.
She said: “We were inspired by our sons. Their willingness to give part of their body to someone who is in desperate need of it was such a meaningful act of charity and selflessness.
“What has always amazed us is that despite many people including their peers at school commented about their hair and mistakenly referred to them as ‘girls’, they don’t talk about it unless specifically asked why they are growing their hair.
“They know why they are doing this and they are determined to go through the pain of grooming hair daily and the bullying by their peers.
“This for us was the very essence of giving selflessly and from the heart with the only motive being doing something kind for someone else and see them smile.”
You can donate to Kaleb and Aaron’s fundraiser here: https://gofund.me/fe2fc409