I don’t know what it is about hair stylists in Winnipeg, but they are among the most caring and generous people I’ve ever met.
The most recent is Samantha Lacoste from Hair F/X, who is the driving force behind a cut-a-thon slated for later this month, called Gifts For Lalo.
Lacoste’s parents adopted her brother, Eyob, from Ethiopia eight years ago when he was four. Her family travelled to Ethiopia last spring to visit the tiny village, called Lalo, where Eyob was born.
“I have travelled a lot in my life but never seen anything to that extent,” she said. “It was pretty hard to see.
“We went to the orphanages and saw a lot of the kids there. It hit me really hard.”
Lacoste’s family stayed in a hotel about 20 minutes outside of the village, where the people of Lalo live in mud huts surrounded by farm land.
“We brought them some food, clothing, soccer balls and while we were there we bought them a cow and a goat,” said Lacoste, 24.
The villagers all have cell phones but no vehicles, Lacoste said, so in order to charge their phones they must make a seven-hour walk once a week to another town.
The village is dependant on a type of grain they grow, but that also requires a seven-hour walk with the grain to a market where the grain is ground in small amounts. It made Lacoste realize how we take a car ride to the grocery store for granted.
“They were just such happy people and they enjoy life,” Lacoste said. “When we came back I wanted to do something more for them, because they still have a lot of harshness that they have to go through and they don’t have a lot.”
One of their greatest needs is affordable education and school supplies, Lacoste noted. The dairy cow and goat they purchased for the village cost them more than C$600, which is the equivalent of one person’s college tuition in Ethiopia, she said.
“So you have to choose if you are going to send your kid to school or feed your family,” she said.
Lacoste approached Michael Larocque, owner of Hair F/X, about hosting a cut-a-thon. The salon has held similar charity fundraisers in the past, so they know the routine well.
The cut-a-thon will happen Feb. 22 at Hair F/X at 915 Grosvenor Ave., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with all cuts at $25. There will be Ethiopian food on hand as well as a silent auction.
It’s hoped the event will raise at least $6,000. Lacoste has learned it would cost a staggering $4,600 to send only about 140 lbs. (three suitcases) via courier to Ethiopia.
As a result, the most cost effective method of ensuring the village benefited from the event is to fly there and purchase more supplies once she arrives.
In early May, Lacoste and her father will return to Lalo where they will use 100% of the funds raised to purchase food, clothing, mosquito netting, water cans, bedding and school supplies.
“No one ever said we could fix the world all at once, but to help just one village can make all the world’s difference to the families of Lalo,” Lacoste said.
Meanwhile, Eyob, is enjoying life in Winnipeg, she said.
“The first six months were hard for him, because it was very confusing. He was only four years old and it’s a completely different life,” Lacoste said.
“But he got pretty used to the Canadian life.”