Cambodia hairAccording to the World Bank, although the poverty rate in Cambodia dropped from 47.8 percent in 2007 to 13.5 percent in 2014, 4.5 million people are dangerously close to falling back into poverty. Luckily, Hair Aid, an Australian humanitarian group, is working to help decrease and end poverty in Cambodia.

Hair Aid sends teams of volunteer hairdressers to places like Cambodia in order to teach many of people living in poverty how to cut hair, giving them an opportunity to learn a skill and reduce poverty in that area. Not only does Hair Aid recruit volunteer hairdressers and send them to locations all over the world but they have also been recruiting volunteer hairdressers to work with other local community organizations that help those in need.

Hair Aid’s Currently Changing Cambodia with Hair Cuts

In August 2018, Hair Aid partnered with Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) to teach a course in Steung Meanchey for five days. Hair Aid volunteers describe one function of this humanitarian group as a way to empower the Cambodian people, teaching them skills as a way to start micro businesses in order to support themselves and feed their families. It’s a way to end poverty in Cambodia by providing opportunities to help fight against this epidemic.

Hair Aid also provided essential tools for a popular CCF hairdresser, Granny Thim. This 73-year-old hairdresser used only a pair of kitchen scissors to cut hair within the community. Impressed by Thim, Hair Aid provided the correct and needed tools for her so she can continue her passion, work and skill for cutting hair.

A Hair Aid hairdresser from Brisbane, Bronwyn Ball, also volunteered in Cambodia to help fight against poverty, after seeing the impact hairdressing can have in creating new opportunities for many women and children who are in the sex trade industry.

According to the Australian Broadcast Corporation or ABC News, Ball states that it’s not just about teaching them how to cut hair for the purpose of creating a sustainable income, but it also “gives them hope.” Hair Aid not only gives these women and young girls a certificate and graduation ceremony but they also give them hope for the future.

She also praised Australian celebrity and hair salon owner Tabatha Coffey, star of her own American TV series called Tabatha Takes Over. Coffey has joined and supported Hair Aid, and since Coffey’s series is about helping reinvent failing hair salon businesses, she was able to put to use other skills than just hair cutting tips. She was able to provide business advice for the trainees, helping rid poverty in Cambodia by teaching the Cambodian people a trade and a way to sustain it.

Other Organizations Continue to Help Fight Poverty in Cambodia

While CCF and Hair Aid continue to offer support and training to the Cambodian people, other organizations are doing the same. Helping Hands, for example, aims to provide training opportunities for the people in the country,  building pride and dignity for many families and communities to end poverty in Cambodia.

Helping Hands works with village chiefs, community elders, parents and teachers with the purpose of changing priorities in the Cambodian people. This includes operating schools, providing breakfast, running agriculture training and educational programs and teaching mothers and caretakers about nutrition as well as household hygiene issues.

The Group for Research and Technology Exchanges (GRET) works to provide access to services and water systems, including access to piped water and sanitation, by creating programs to help improve conditions in the area. They also increase small-scale farmers’ income and protect the environment as well as indigenous communities, not only helping to find solutions to land conflicts but also improve crop yield and give access to agricultural water.

Hairdressing is an opportunity for the people of Cambodia to not only feed their families and themselves but also help end poverty in Cambodia. Hair Aid, CCF and other organizations are continuing to support and assist the Cambodian people, hoping to end the poverty epidemic and to improve conditions throughout the country.

– Charlene Frett
Photo: Flickr