Student offers open-air haircuts to people displaced by Turkey earthquake

"It feels good to do good things to help others. I never imagined I'd do this when I learned to cut hair as I just did it for money to help the family," he said.
'We need to move on': Student Mohammed al-Hamo cuts hair of people displaced by earthquake. (Photo | AFP)
'We need to move on': Student Mohammed al-Hamo cuts hair of people displaced by earthquake. (Photo | AFP)

Student Mohammed al-Hamo, who learned to cut hair to earn money in his spare time, never imagined he would put his skills on display in a tent camp for earthquake survivors.

But following the devastating tremor on February 6 that destroyed swathes of southeastern Turkey and northern Syria, 18-year-old Mohammed is offering open-air haircuts to his family and others displaced by the disaster.

"If anyone comes he will for sure give them a haircut," said his father Khaled with a proud smile as he waited for his turn in the barber's chair.

Mohammed first gave his brother a fade, carefully using a cut-throat razor to sculpt 19-year-old Sobhi's hairline.

"I didn't manage to rescue my equipment until now," said Mohammed who had successfully retrieved electric clippers, combs, scissors and shampoo from the wreckage of his destroyed home.

While the Hamo family said they still have relatives missing following the earthquake that killed almost 45,000 people, their immediate family escaped unhurt.

Khaled said that, beyond free haircuts, his two eldest sons had been volunteering to help others in the camp in a park in the southeastern Turkish city of Antakya.

 'We keep moving' 

"Our moral code tells us to help people, so my sons do this... we don't wait for someone to tell us," said Khaled of the pair who had helped clean the camp and worked with the Red Crescent aid agency.

Millions of people across the region have been made homeless by the earthquake, with many forced into tented camps with limited sanitation and access to electricity and healthcare.

As Mohammed dusted down his brother and prepared to give his father a haircut and shave, his mother swept up hair nearby.

"It feels good to do good things to help others. I never imagined I'd do this when I learned to cut hair as I just did it for money to help the family," he said.

He then transformed his father's appearance, threading his eyebrows, tidying up his already short hair and leaving him clean shaven.

"Even in these difficult conditions, we keep moving," Khaled said, his family's clothes hanging to dry on a washing line behind him.

Mohammed said he was preparing to go to university soon but would transfer to an institution in the Turkish capital Ankara because of damage done to universities in the earthquake-hit region.

The Hamo family moved to Antakya in 2014 from Aleppo in Syria, fleeing their country's brutal civil war for Turkey like nearly four million of their compatriots.

"I started cleaning in a barber shop and then learned to cut hair from there," he said as children played with a ball nearby and tea brewed on a stove outside their tent.

"I prefer using scissors rather than electric shavers, it shows how skilled a hairdresser is."

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