We haven’t met yet, but through your support both financially and as an advocate for The Trade’s cause, you’ve impacted my students lives and my own- among many others, I’m sure.
When I returned home from one of our follow up programs in Cambodia this last March, I pitched an idea to Chris and Jon at Hattori Hanzo Shears. An idea that would require more financial support, a lot of hard work, and a lot of big changes for myself and my team.
My dream for The Trade was to open a year round education center and training clinic classroom in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Our previous short term programs were great, and they were serving their purpose, but we could make life changing impact on communities with an ongoing program, and we could provide fair trade employment if we had a clinic classroom. This would not only integrate our students back into their communities as self sustaining, independent individuals, but it’s something we could step back from one day and allow to be locally operated and staffed. I believe this is the best way we can impact other cultures, by giving them to the tools and education, and ultimately putting it in the hands of the community.
Shortly after I talked with Chris and Jon about this new direction for The Trade, the perfect building for our clinic classroom and school became available to rent. Doors started opening, things were falling perfectly into place, and it was clear that we were meant to start this operation. That’s when Paul Mitchell Schools donated such a generous amount, allowing us to commit to the building in Cambodia before someone else could, and, making this dream a reality.
The idea for all of this sprouted because of our students, who dream of opening their own clinic classrooms, putting food on the table for their children and families, and inspiring new generations of women… Their dreams are important to everyone at The Trade, so important that I’m moving to Cambodia this October with one of our amazing teachers to open this new facility and oversee the program. We know that it takes longterm support and encouragement to see the kind of longterm impact we want, and we wouldn’t have been able to make any of this happen without your support.
Here are a few highlights of specific lives that Paul Mitchell has touched through The Trade:
We met Sam* while she was working in a brothel to help support her 8 brothers and sisters and her widowed mother, she told us that her dream was to open her own hair clinic classroom while supporting her family.
Youry has saved her money while working and has so far purchased a shampoo bowl, a quality clinic classroom chair, a manicure/pedicure mobile station, and several products to use in her future clinic classroom. She graduated from our program last October, and will apprentice in our new clinic classroom this January while saving money for her own shop.
Sarah* is intelligent, funny, responsible, and intuitive. Despite being sold into a brothel at a young age and suffering a traumatic rape after leaving the brothel, she has come a long way and found her identity through our cosmetology course. Sarah is now managing a clinic classroom and volunteering in local villages to cut hair for children and treat them for lice. Sarah will continue her education with us in January at our new facility.
We met Nina* while she was working in a brothel to support her two young children. Her husband had forced her to sell her body to pay for his alcohol addiction, and then he left her shortly afterward. Nina didn’t have any confidence to leave the brothel once she was on her own as a single mother, and lacking basic skills like reading and writing, she found it impossible to find other work. During one of our brothel recruits where we visit women on the job and simply pay for their time to have a conversation, we asked Nina what her dream job was, to which she replied, “I wanna do hair and makeup! I did my own tonight, do you like it?!”. We then told Nina that we had a cosmetology course she could enroll in for free, we would give her free English classes, provide transportation to and from school, and pay her a stipend during her education. Nina never missed a day of school, and today she works in a clinic classroom that’s overseen by a partner organization. She is also remarried to a kindhearted, respectful man, and expecting a new baby!
These are just a few examples of the real lives that have changed course thanks to our supporters and the opportunity to get an education. Our students take so much pride in their newfound skills and, especially, in making others feel beautiful.
I can’t wait to send you pictures of the clinic classroom once the renovations are complete, and of our happy students. We will open our doors in January 2015, and hope to make you and our other supporters proud.
Thank you so much,
Director of The Trade