Cover Story

Volunteer Hairstylist Weaves a Dream

Dreams change our lives. Years ago, after 22-year-old Chan Ka-ho had dropped out of school, he became a loser by social standards. With the help of The Salvation Army, Ka-ho joined the profession of hair styling and officially became a hairstylist half a year ago. He has identified his dreams and found a clear career path. Kaho also actively participates in giving free haircuts to the deprived groups. He wants to bring about changes to the community as people regain their smiles and self-confidence from a new hairstyle.

Having been labelled as a bad student, Ka-ho once gave up on himself and dropped out of school in Secondary 3. He happened to get in touch with The Salvation Army. Encouraged by the Army social worker, Ka-ho worked as an apprentice in a hair salon. Feeling anxious and lost as a dropout, the job was a good place for him to settle down and to earn a living.

Shaking off the Social Label
‘Only those who fail at school work as hair washers’. Kaho was fear of this label. When he went to work at the beginning, he was always cautious and even dared not speak too loudly, for fear of making any mistakes and being scolded. The job of washing hair is no easy task. Looking back, Ka-ho could not help but count the hardships back then, ‘The work was really, really tough... Every day I bent down to wash hair for the customers. Frequent washing had made my hands dry and cracked.’

At that time, Ka-ho worked in a small-scale hair salon that was always short of manpower. He had to learn various skills within a short period of time in order to help lessen his master’s workload. ‘I never expected to have to learn dying hair after washing hair for a week. Normally it takes apprentices half a year or so before they have such a chance. At that time I was so busy; every day I worked over 10 hours. It was beyond the imagination of someone outside of the industry.’ Ka-ho did not expect he would persevere and endure all the hardships. He has been working in the industry for 7 years.

Today, Ka-ho is confident in handling the hairstyle of his customers. He attributed this to his master and his social worker: the former being a teacher and a friend who encourages rather than scolding him, and has given him many opportunities to grow up; the latter being his life coach who walks with him searching for the right direction whenever he is confused and at a loss. Being able to persevere and remain in the hairstyling industry until now, customers’ praises and recognition is his motivation. This great sense of accomplishment makes him determined to put in more efforts for realising his dream, ‘I want to enhance my skills, at the same time save up in order to travel abroad to broaden my horizon. When I come back I’ll open my own hair salon in Hong Kong.’

Equip himself through Serving the Community
Last year, Ka-ho was invited by a social worker to join the ‘Dream Puzzle’ project of The Salvation Army. He was sponsored to buy a complete set of brand-new haircutting kit. Together with the Army’s social worker, he made plans on how to realise his dream. A few months ago, he proposed offering free haircuts to the elderly. In this way he can use his talent to contribute to the society, at the same time enhance his skills. He found that giving haircuts to the elderly was not easy; it was even more challenging than giving adults and children a haircut. ‘Elders’ necks are usually shorter and their hair usually thinning, brittle and soft. Marks are often left on their hair after sleep. It takes more patience and time to handle all these.’

Ka-ho and the Army social worker jointly organised two free haircut activities for the elderly. Ka-ho was overwhelmed with joy when he saw the refreshing looks and smiling faces of the elders. ‘I want to continue the free haircut  activity. Apart from elders, I also want to give free cuts to the grassroots students. When these students reach a certain age, they’ll be concerned with their looks and compare with their peers. Grassroots parents may have a tight budget, so they won’t ask for too much about their children’s hairstyles. In fact, even children want to look prettier and smarter. After all, it’s a matter of self - confidence.’ The free haircut activities also give a boost of Ka-ho’s confidence and bring him a step closer to realising his dream!

Companion Dream Builder

As a companion in Ka-ho’s life and pursuit of dreams, Mr Cheung Kin-hei, social worker of The Salvation Army Tai Po Integrated Service for Young People believes that support, acceptance and recognition are of vital importance to young people. They have their own potentials and strengths. With support from the project, the youth are encouraged to set different life goals and have the courage to persevere. This also helps them build confidence and a positive attitude, which will in turn influence the community.

‘Dream Puzzle 2017-18’ Project

Implemented by The Salvation Army Family, Youth and Community Services, the ‘Dream Puzzle 2017-18’ project aims to support youth at risk aged 14 to 24, helping them to explore their interests and potentials. The youth are provided with funds and encouraged to realise their dreams. They may help the people in need by using their own strengths to serve the community. Last year, the project funded a total of 11 teams of young people. Together with the Army social workers, they made plans for realising their dreams of becoming street dancers, Thai boxers or starting their own band.


Ka-ho gives free haircuts t...
Before doing the haircut, K...
The Salvation Army sponsors...
Master Jackson (right) also...
The number of elders partic...
‘Dream Puzzle 2017-18’ Project