Martha’s Haircut Experience

’ve been in Cambodia working with Scoop and SCAO for almost two months. Time is absolutely flying by and I love every minute of it. My main role here is as an English teacher and I’m responsible for a beginner class and a more advanced grammar class. My days are mostly taken up with preparing for these classes but you know, sometimes a girl just needs a bit of pampering! I’ve been in Asia travelling and volunteering for almost four months now and haven’t once blow dried my hair…let alone had it done. So, I decided to treat myself by letting the hair and beauty class in Som Roung loose on my head. The class itself is barely a year old and offers to teach skills to keep young adults away from the tough life of working in the nearby garment factories. If you’ve been reading about the recent struggle in Cambodia for the garment workers then you may realize how important practical skills like hairdressing can be in creating self-employment.

As soon as I’d settled into my chair I was asked if I wanted my hair cut. I hadn’t planned on it but a moment of pure madness washed over me and I said ‘yes!’ so eagerly I surprised myself. Most girls and women will agree that every hair-cut, whether just a trim or a complete re-style, is a well thought out and much discussed decision that can drag on for weeks, regardless of whether we are in Cambodia or not. I was laughing to myself that I’d refused so many times in the past to go to hairdressing academies in Ireland and Holland because I was too afraid and here I was getting my hair cut by students in rural Cambodia where I don’t speak the local language. Anyway, I settled into my chair again and watched as the ends of my hair fell to the ground. I calmed down a bit and took in the scene. To my left was a girl getting her hair done for some event that evening; a fancy ‘up-do’ more complicated than anything I’ve ever seen before. And then behind me were some make-up students putting the finishing touches to their willing models. When they were finished cutting I was asked if I wanted my hair styled. I’d come that far, why not go the whole way? My hair was plaited on both sides and tied at the back underneath but not before it was crimped on the top. The ends of my hair were then curled with the straightening iron and I was ready to be released into the world. In the end, I had little to worry about because the cut turned out great and my hair is much happier and healthier.

It might be an upstairs room in a school but the result is a professional hair and beauty shop. All of us girls even had our hair styled by the students for our Christmas party in the village!