Phil Thompson and Zac Fennell, partners in the Bath-based hair salon BA1 Hair, travelled to Mumbai last week to visit the Mumbai Hair project, a charity which they support.  They carried out hands-on training from hair cutting to styling and attended the graduation ceremony. Phil and Zac presented the girls who had recently completed the course with their certificates and a gift of Akito scissors and Aveda hair products generously provided by Akito Scissors and Aveda.

Phil and Zac have teamed up with the Indian operation of the UK charity, Oasis.  They have jointly developed a project to provide life skills to trafficked women in the red-light district of Mumbai.  These women are typically trafficked as young girls from the poor rural areas of India and are forced into prostitution in the thriving city.  By their late teens they are on the junk heap, free to move on but, because of a lack of education and skills, they have no future.

Jessica Gunjal of Oasis India commented “Girls often are sold into prostitution from the age of eight.  They will have up to thirty clients per day with four of them sharing a room.  By the time they get to eighteen their hope is gone, and their spirit is crushed.  They do not even know the days of the week; every day is the same”.

Zac commented “this is the third batch of girls to qualify and it is particularly pleasing that all the girls who have graduated have subsequently got jobs in the industry.  Our aim is to givethese girls a life skill, which provides a future for them.  The fact that all 26 of the girls who have graduated in the last 12 months are now in employment clearly demonstrates that they have been given that future”.

Phil continued “We have designed a hair styling and cutting course, which is practical and hopefully inspiring and provides a way out for the girls from the red-light district. During the visit, I was struck by the transformation of the girls, their motivation, their enthusiasm and their spirit.  Despite horrible backgrounds, these girls have becomepositive about the future and you can see humour returning totheir faces.  They become enthusiastic, motivated and where there was cynicism, we see humour and spirit emerge.  The transformation is amazing and is very humbling to see”.

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