Lê Văn Vững shows off his skills to his trainees. VNA/VNS Photos Ánh Tuyết
By Ánh Tuyết-Mai Hiên
CẦN THƠ – Lê Văn Vững, the owner of four hair salons in Cần Thơ City, regularly organises trips offering free haircuts to needy people in remote areas of the Mekong River Delta.
Thousands of disadvantaged people have benefited from these charitable trips, held monthly, over the past three years.
"I just want people to have beautiful hair," Vững said.
Due to his family’s financial difficulties, he dropped out of school in the 6th grade and started earning a living from several jobs, including working as a porter and a labourer. At the age of 20, he volunteered to join the military.
The idea of becoming a barber came to him when he saw one of his roommates cutting his friend's hair.
This sparked a passion and a way for help him find a stable job.
“I asked my friend to show me how to cut hair for more than a year,” he recalled.
After leaving the army, Vững learnt ho to cut hair. In 2017 he got married to a girl who also shared his passion. The same year, the couple opened their first barbershop with the money he made during his military service and wedding presents.
“Since I opened the shop, I have been thinking about offering free hair cuts,” Vững said.
“My motivation is to bring joy to everyone by applying my own profession to serve people. Fortunately, the trainees and staff at my shops have the same desire to do charitable work, so we have found a common voice, as well as excitement on every trip ", Vững said.
He said his group provided free hair cuts at least once a month for all those in need.
After obtaining permission from local authorities, the group has worked with schools or local commune People’s Committee headquarters.
All the mobile barber shop needs is plastic chairs to serve customers.
“Although I don’t have much money, I can still help people by employing my profession,” he said.
The group travelled from one place to the other in the Mekong River Delta, Vững said, adding that he planned to go to An Giang next week.
He said for a short trip, the group would travel by motorbike, but for longer journeys they would take a car, sometimes waking up at 3am to prepare.
“We cut hair for 50-70 people on average each trip. It doesn’t matter what type of hair.”
The charity work has helped group members improve their skills, he said.
Vững's charity group offer free haircuts for people at Ngọc Liên Monastry in Cần Thơ City’s Cờ Đỏ District.
Võ Ngọc Yến, from An Giang Province’s Châu Thành District, said he was happy to be part of the project.
“These trips have meaning because we can make people look and feel great, while our teacher hands down the motivation to nurture our passion,” he said.
Whilst having his hair at Ngọc Liên Monastery in Cần Thơ City’s Cờ Đỏ District, Lê Tiến Hùng, a tenth grader, said: “At first, I am embarrassed asking them to cut my hair for me. However, it is the care and warmness of the barbers that make me feel very happy.”
Experiences from the charity trips motivated Vững to make a bold decision – organising free training for people who have a passion for becoming barbers.
"As I've become better off, I have started organising free training courses.Ten people have been attending these courses since the beginning of this year.
“I want to help them earn a living by themselves,” he said.
The trainees learn basic skills including curling, dyeing and cutting. After completing their course, they land jobs in his shops.
Vững also provides support for those who want to open their own shops.
Previously, the trainees had to pay VNĐ12 million (US$516) for the course, which lasted six months, Vững said.
Lê Thị Kiều Nguyệt, one of the trainees, said she had really enjoyed her first three weeks
“All the staff treat me like family, especially Vững who has taught me lots of new things,” she said.
Nguyệt said she intended to work at Vững’s shop before opening her own salon to pay back the dedication her teacher had shown to her.
25-year-old Vững has bigger plans in mind to co-ordinate with colleagues to buy more motorbikes as well as essentials so they can visit the elderly and people with disabilities to give them a trim, free of charge, obviously. — VNS