By Penny Sims, IFRC
From the outside, you would not expect to find a fully-fitted beauty salon inside this small rented apartment. But cross the threshold you can enter another world, where transformation is possible.
Amani – whose name means ‘wishes’ – set up this salon with her friend Rouda six months ago thanks to support from a Syria Arab Red Crescent (SARC) livelihoods programme supported by Danish Red Cross, in Dweila, a suburb of Damascus. The area is home to many people who have been displaced by the conflict, and the local SARC centre offers psychosocial support and training to help people get back on their feet.
For Amani the opportunity to study hairdressing and beauty was the chance both to pursue a dream, and to support her family after losing her home and her husband.
“When I heard about the course I signed up straight away. I had thought about becoming a hairdresser before I was married – I’d always had this idea. For me, it is like art.”
Amani was displaced from her home in Rural Damascus in November 2012 and fled to Dweila with her husband and two children.
“When we left there was fighting, even very near to our home. We had to leave. We got in the car and went. We left in our pyjamas with no preparations. We took nothing with us from the house.”
“Two months later the road was open again to our area. My husband went back to get things from the house, but until now we have not had any news from him.”
Amani’s father was able to provide some support for her family, but she needed to find work. Then she heard about a new vocational course at the local SARC centre.
She signed up for three courses: two months in the basics of hair cutting and dressing, three months on advanced hairdressing and three months on make-up skills.
“The first time I did someone’s hair professionally I was anxious. To begin with I did hair for the SARC volunteers, trying out my skills on them. Then Hiba from the centre advised me how to advertise for custom and helped me to set up this salon.”
Amani’s friend Rouda volunteered the use of a room in her rented apartment, and together, with support from SARC and IFRC, they set up a salon in the front room, installing a generator, chairs and equipment. The room has been transformed into a fully functioning salon with a range of beauty products.
Rouda and Amani have now built up a regular clientele. Soon, they hope to move to a new premises expand their business.