New plan in works to aid Bangladeshis

By Jessica Bartlett
Globe Correspondent / July 24, 2011

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After a failed attempt to bring Bangladeshi orphans to Trinidad to receive cosmetology training, Sandra Ishmael and Robert McCarthy have come up with a new plan.

It’s the second try of The Friends of the World Charitable Trust, begun by members of Quincy’s First Presbyterian Church in 2010, to give the teenage orphans the skills to find employment in Bangladesh, where 40 percent of the population lives in poverty.

The idea came naturally to Ishmael, who owns Quincy’s Allure Spa. Yet after running into visa problems in trying to bring the orphans to Trinidad, where her brother runs a beautician school, the initiative was put on hold.

Now, rather than bringing the orphans to the training, Ishmael and McCarthy will bring the training to them.

It’s been a yearlong effort to set up the classroom, training space, and facilitate the transportation of a group of beauticians who will be teaching the class, yet come September, the group’s mission will finally be realized.

The students “are chomping at the bit,” said McCarthy, who is president of Kanon Bloch Carré, a Braintree-based investment consultancy.

“The Trinidad program was anticipated to start last September,’’ he said. “They were ready then. Some of them started to think it’s not going to happen, but now that they see the classroom is stocked with equipment and the calendar has our arrival date, they are very excited.”

The organization will use the $20,000 already raised for the mission in 2010 in addition to the $15,000 raised this past year for the cause. McCarthy estimated that the group would need another $15,000 for transportation and equipment costs.

To get the additional money, Sue Canavan, owner of Quincy’s Aura Salon and one of the traveling beauticians, is holding a fund-raiser at 7 p.m. Aug. 4, at Alba Restaurant in Quincy Center. “An Evening at Alba’s for the Home of Joy Orphanage” will feature a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, door prizes, and a silent auction. The suggested donation is $25.

The project started when McCarthy and Ishmael went to Bangladesh in February 2010. After seeing the rampant poverty, and the little hope many of these orphans had at finding full-time employment, the pair knew they needed to do something.

According to Ashley Lynch-Mahoney, who works with Ishmael at Allure and for the Charitable Trust, the idea for cosmetology training came when Ishmael was giving one of the room mothers a pedicure while visiting.

The kids quickly picked up on it, and as it turns out, the need for qualified beauticians is growing in the city, McCarthy said.

Yet the goal isn’t just to provide the orphans with training to get them a job, but also toward something more permanent.

“Immediate job placement in salons [is the primary goal], but hopefully there will be a follow-up or second phase where we can help establish businesses,” Lynch-Mahoney said.

“Right now, we’re renting rooms from the orphanage’s school, but we might be able to rent outside space and have it be part of the school. When the group goes over and Sandra is there, they will take another look at that.”

The group has solicited help from other beauticians in the area, who will travel with Ishmael to provide the training.

“We’re hoping to go over there and teach 20 girls, and maybe boys,” said Canavan. “The girls can pick from there what they want to specialize in. We’re hoping they could then be the trainers for this academy.”

The cosmetologists will spend six weeks teaching over 1,000 hours to the students, giving them guidance in everything from hair to skin to nails. The group will also teach salon management, as well as salon hygiene and sanitation.

“This trip is a wonderful opportunity to help young women learn a trade that will help them escape poverty and achieve economic self-sufficiency,” Canavan said.

Although this aspect of the training project is finally nearing fruition, McCarthy sees much more ahead.

“We will be looking at what we can do for’’ the small number of boys in the orphanage, “construction work or something relevant to their environment there.’’

McCarthy also said that the charity plans on going to other areas of the world to empower impoverished people.

Now, on the verge of what may seem like a small change in Bangladesh, Canavan said the project was giving many people hope.

“They have the potential to make $5 a day, which is a lot of money for them,” Canavan said. “There is that need there, there is an industry’’ giving them an opportunity. “That would be my dream.”

To donate to the project, call Sue Canavan at 617-773-2142.