Let’s set the scene.
Pete Walstab and Russell Rentmeester have just returned from the slums of Manila, Philippines where they taught hairdressing and lifestyle skills to the less fortunate, increasing their earning potential and improving their quality of life. It’s a daunting and almost unfathomable experience – what’s even more amazing is that in a mere few months, this could be you.
Hair Aid, a not-for-profit organisation that sends teams of hairdressers to low-income cities in the Philippines in order to pass on the skill of hairdressing, is looking for its 2016 volunteers. A new trip has been planned for June of this year. Over the past six years, the team has trained over 1200 people, changing the lives of those students and their families.
The initiative is the brainchild of Selina Tomasich, who set up the first training workshop in Manila after visiting the place herself and having a conversation with two nuns by chance. They illustrated to her the need for and difficulty in establishing training centres in the area. While the program began with sewing, the request for hairdressing classes saw acclaimed Australian hairdresser Bernie Craven come on board. He developed a five day training system that teaches students how to cut both short and long cuts, layering, clipper cuts and hand over comb techniques.
Now the organisation sends teams of Volunteers to Quezon City in Manila three times a year, and trains in four different locations. 2016 introduces the first scissor and knife sharpening training with the help of Pete, Russell and Excellent Edges.
“One gentleman who trained now earns up to $AUD10 a day, instead of the $AUD7 a week,” Selina explained of the impact of Hair Aid’s most recent January trip. “An older single father of five children, he can now afford to buy food for all his family every day, rather than going hungry once or twice a week.” The man also continued to train others in the community, while the team was still there and after they had left. The community has ensured new equipment and a training location so that this education can be on-going.
It’s this sense of community that leaves hairdressers so inspired at the end of their trip. Hair Aid will send teams out to three locations in the Philippines in June – you could very well be on that plane.
For more information visit hairaid.org.au