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South Shore locals to give hope half a world away

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  July 20, 2011 10:28 AM

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After a failed attempt to bring Bangladesh orphans to Trinidad to receive cosmetology training,
Sandra Ishmael of Quincy’s Allure Spa and Robert McCarthy, president of Kanon Bloch Carré in Braintree, have figured out how to acccomplish their goal.

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 orphans the skills to find employment in Bangladesh, where 40 percent of the population lives in poverty.

Yet after running into visa problems attempting to bring the orphans to Trinidad, where there is already a beautician school run by Ishmael’s brother, the program was put on hold.

Now, rather than bringing the orphans to the training, Ishmael and McCarthy will to 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 American 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,” McCarthy said. “The Trinidad program was anticipated to start last September. They were ready then. Some of them started to think its 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 with the $15,000 raised this past year for the cause. McCarthy estimated that the group would need an additional $15,000 for transportation and equipment costs.

To get the money for the project, Canavan is holding a fund-raiser at 7 p.m. on 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 all 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 both 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, tthe 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 to eventually to help the teens start a salon themselves.

“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 the teen orphans so desperately need.

“We’re hoping to go over there and teach 20 girls, and maybe boys,” said Sue Canavan, owner of Quincy’s Aura Salon. “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 spent six weeks teaching over 1,000 hours of classes to the students, giving them guidance in everything from hair care, to skincare and aesthetics to nail care. The group will also teach salon management, as well as salon hygiene and sanitation.

“I believe in the philosophy, ‘Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for today; teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for the rest of his life,’” Canavan said. “This trip is a wonderful opportunity to help young women learn a trade that will help them escape poverty and achieve economic self-sufficiency.”

Although the group leaves in September for the trip, year-round expenses mean donations at any time would be appreciated, Lynch-Mahoney said.

Those wishing to donate should contact Sue Canavan at 617-773-2142. Donation checks may be made payable to “Friends of the World Charitable Trust” and mailed to Sue Canavan, c/o Aura Salon, 1155 Hancock St., Quincy, MA 02169.

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

"We will be looking at what we can do for [the small number of boys in the orphange] on some kind of scale, construction work or something relevant to their environment there….but construction or sheet metal work would be the next phase as far as this program," he said.

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

Yet even now, on the precipice of what may seem like a small change, Canavan said the project was giving 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 this opportunity], that would be my dream.”

To read about Ishmael's and McCarthy's first attempts to help Bangladesh orphans, click here.

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