Homeless Kuala Lumpur resident Indera Abha struggles to eke out a meager existence by selling salvaged recyclables, so personal appearance concerns understandably take a back seat.
However, a Malaysian charity that offers free haircuts along with meals helps him salvage his dignity.
“I like to get my hair cut. I feel good, and it is free,” Indera, 49, said with a smile missing several teeth, as strands of his thin black hair floated to the ground around him.
Wielding the scissors is stylist Azmina Burhan, who runs her own salon, but volunteers with the Pertiwi Soup Kitchen to provide for an often overlooked need of homeless people.
“To me, how people look is very important. You want to look good every day when you wake up, no matter how rich you are, how poor you are,” the 26-year-old said.
Azmina joined the charity shortly after its establishment in 2010, helping to give out food and water several times each week.
However, after encountering hundreds of homeless people who could not afford proper haircuts, she started bringing along her scissors to the soup kitchen, apron and a small stool about once every other month. Each time she goes now, she gives up to 30 haircuts, and counting.
“After you finish getting a haircut you look good, you feel good, and you have that self-confidence in you,” she said, adding that a cleaned-up appearance could help people secure jobs.
For Azmina, the task can mean handling dirty, matted hair. The worst, she said, was a man who slept on the streets and had not washed his hair for months, leaving her hands blackened with dust.
However, she has never turned anyone away and said the image of the smelly, lice-infested homeless person is false and is the sort of stereotype that she aims to eliminate by giving her haircuts.
Her homeless customers can be quite trendy, especially younger ones, and common requests include British soccer star David Beckham’s hairstyles and the longer fringes favored by South Korean and Japanese pop icons.
Malaysian living standards have vaulted steadily upward thanks to decades of strong economic growth, but Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy is not immune to privation, and income disparity has widened.
Pertiwi said Kuala Lumpur and its outskirts have an estimated 1,800 homeless people. Government officials did not respond to an Agence France-Presse request for figures.
Pertiwi feeds up to 700 people four times a week, pulling up with a food-loaded van in three of Kuala Lumpur’s poorer areas.
Volunteer medics also provide check-ups and medicine.
“I didn’t realize it was going to be this big,” Pertiwi head Munirah Hamid said, and added that the crowds of needy are growing.
Azmina is now looking for another volunteer hairdresser to meet the demands of homeless people like Paul Chin, who lives on the street after he lost his job at a car-wash several months ago.
“It’s very annoying,” Chin said shyly of the overgrown shock of graying hair crowning his head as he settled onto Azmina’s stool.
By the time Azmina’s scissors stopped snipping, someone waiting in line shouted: “He’s a new man!”
“Now I feel good,” Chin said, running his hands over his newly trimmed top before disappearing among the crowd of homeless people.
Choosing a full-fledged confrontation with the US due to the loss of a megacontract for submarines for Australia, France is making a risky bet and other nations are not rushing to its defense. After Australia renounced its deal for conventional submarines in favor of US nuclear-powered ones, France took the extraordinary step of pulling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra for consultations. Bertrand Badie, an international relations professor at the Sciences Po institute in Paris, said France had put itself in a position where it can only appear to be backing down or losing face once its ambassador returns to the US,
Could delivering COVID-19 immunity directly to the nose — the area of the body via which it is mostly transmitted — help conquer the pandemic? The WHO says clinical trials are under way to evaluate eight nasal spray vaccines that target COVID-19. The most advanced effort so far by China’s Xiamen University, the University of Hong Kong and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy has completed phase 2 trials. “When the virus infects someone, it usually gets in through the nose,” said researcher Nathalie Mielcarek, who is working with the Lille Pasteur Institute to develop a nasal spray vaccine against whooping cough. “The
PLANNING TO REOPEN: Amid 1,607 new COVID-19 cases, the country is making a shift away from lockdowns, acknowledging that outbreaks will happen Australia reported 1,607 new coronavirus cases yesterday as states and territories gradually shift from trying to eliminate outbreaks to living with the virus. Victoria, home to about a quarter of Australia’s 25 million people, recorded 507 cases as Premier Daniel Andrews said a weeks-long lockdown will end once 70 percent of those 16 and older are fully vaccinated, whether or not there are new cases. Andrews said the state might reach that vaccination threshold around Oct. 26. About 43 percent of Victorians have been fully vaccinated, 46 percent nationwide. “We will do so cautiously, but make no mistake, we are opening this place
OLD WAYS: The Ministry of Women’s Affairs also seems to have closed, as its sign was replaced with one for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice The Taliban have effectively banned girls from secondary education in Afghanistan, by ordering high schools to reopen only for boys. Girls were not mentioned in Friday’s announcement, which means boys would be back at their desks next week after a one-month hiatus, while girls would still be stuck at home. The Taliban Ministry of Education said that secondary-school classes for boys in grades 7 to 12 would resume yesterday, the start of the Afghan week. “All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,” the statement said. The future of girls and female teachers, stuck at home since the Taliban took