Monday, November 16, 2015

WELLA-UNICEF Making Waves Programme Launches Vocational Hairdresser Training for Vulnerable Youth in Viet Nam

Holding a comb and the scissors in her hands, Thai Thuy Dung carefully trims a mannequin’s hair while following the instructions of her mentor.  Although this is only a practice session Thuy Dung is excited about the prospect of becoming a future hairdresser.

Raised in a poor family in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Viet Nam’s largest metropolis, Thuy Dung dropped out of middle school to help her grandparents sell vegetables on the streets which exposed her to many dangers.

Thai Thuy Dung follows the haircutting instructions of the mentor.
Photo: UNICEF UK
“I wanted to learn some skills that would help me find a better paying job,” said Thuy Dung. Thuy Dung got lucky when she was invited by the Thao Dan Child Protection Centre, a local NGO, to participate in the hairdressing training supported by WELLA and UNICEF in HCMC. “It’s more than a dream to me”, she said.

Bui Tuyet Loi is also participating in WELLA-UNICEF hairdressing course. Dropping out school in eighth grade, prevented Loi from joining vocational training courses because he lacked the minimum educational requirements. “I was stuck and I did not know what to do. I wanted to learn something which could help me to earn living in the future. I feel myself very lucky to be able to participate in this course and I like it a lot”, said Tuyet Loi.

WELLA-UNICEF MAKING WAVES is a long-term partnership between WELLA and UNICEF in collaboration with hair stylists and their clients from around the world. Working together, WELLA and UNICEF aim to transform the lives of vulnerable youth through hairdressing training, mentoring and life skills education. 

As part of the inauguration of Viet Nam’s mentoring programme, hair stylist volunteers travelled to HCMC to share their skills and passion for hairdressing with 100 vulnerable adolescents aged 15 to 19 living in HCMC. Most of the youth selected for the programme are orphans or from poor families.  Many have experienced abuse, neglect, violence or have come into conflict with the law. The hairstylist volunteers provided a series of essential hairdressing skills - including cutting techniques and highlights. They shared their personal stories to help inspire the Vietnamese youth participants to continue their own hairdressing careers.

“We’ve talked about hairdressing skills in the last two weeks. But I really hope that what you understood is to never give up and always believe in yourself. Because you are all amazing”, said Colin McAndrew, a Wella-UNICEF mentor from Scotland said to students  at the Closing Ceremony of the WELLA-UNICEF MAKING WAVES Programme.

A champion of education and vocational training, Making Waves is especially relevant in Viet Nam where one third of the population (26 million) is under the age of 18. While Viet Nam has made rapid economic progress in the past two decades, protecting children and young people from harm has not kept pace with this progress. It is estimated that around 3.3 million children and adolescents are in difficult circumstances including 1.75 million child laborers, more than 5,400 children with HIV and an estimated 15,000 to 16,000 juveniles in conflict with the law.  


Bui Tuyet Loi proudly shows his certificate from the WELLA-UNICEF MAKING WAVES programme.
Photo: UNICEF Viet Nam/Thanh Huong

The current training is part of Wella’s commitment to support UNICEF Viet Nam in 2015-2016 to strengthen child protection systems, in HCMC, Dong Thap and Lao Cai provinces while using the results to influence national change. 

“The WELLA-UNICEF MAKING WAVES project is about nurturing educational potential and encouraging adolescents to transform their lives, by equipping them with life skills and vocational training. It is about helping to empower young people to make informed decisions, and effectively deal with the challenges of everyday life”, said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam. 

Sharing their plans for the future, Thuy Dung dreams of becoming a famous hairdresser and receiving the Golden Scissor Award like some of the mentors, while Bui Tuyet Loi hopes that he will be able to earn a living as a hairdresser.  “I am confident that the WELLA-UNICEF MAKING WAVES certificate will help me find a job in a hairdressing salon in HCMC,” he says.

By Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong

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