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Cut above the rest: Dignity of school boys in Kensington restored with free haircuts

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Cassiem Ndabazaniye cuts a young boy’s hair as part of the give dignity initiative.PHOTO: supplied
Cassiem Ndabazaniye cuts a young boy’s hair as part of the give dignity initiative.PHOTO: supplied

A quote by Emily Clark reads, “Good hair days make me feel like I can rule the world” and that is exactly what a Kensington community leader wants a group of boys to feel and experience when they return to school tomorrow (18 January).

Cheslyn Steenberg, who is also a community activist, has started a hair cutting campaign to sponsor boys, who can’t afford to go to the barber, with a free haircut. He says: “The purpose is to restore dignity to the boys. As we know father figures are absent and the mother now needs to see to everyone. As a young man, a father and a husband I grew up without a father too. As a father now, I know what it is for a young man to go to school with uncut hair.”

Steenberg says the aim is to boost their confidence.

“The idea is to send the boy back to school with dignity. We want them to look good so that they feel good and ready for the school year. We have partnered with barbers in Kensington, Factreton and Maitland. Each barber will do 30 haircuts. The boys will go to the barber with a voucher which has been paid for. The average cost of a haircut is R50.”

Steenberg says they hope to assist 90 boys.

He says too many children are loitering in the streets, making them easy targets for criminals.

“When you tell a boy he must go to school and you don’t give that child lunch or their school shoes are broken, they will not go to school because they will be teased. Some of these kids want to go to school but they don’t have the resources. We want to keep the kids in school, otherwise they become targets for gangs and because the kids are desperate they easily fall prey.”

On Wednesday 11 January, the campaign kicked off with about 10 boys getting a free haircut.

Parent Jaydene Africa says she welcomes the initiative. She’s unemployed and unable to afford to pay R60 to get her son Colin Junior’s haircut.

“This is good initiative here in the community. Not everyone can afford that extra expense. This is now one less thing to worry about for me.”

Barber Cassiem Ndabazaniye says he opened his shop about seven years ago and this is his way of ploughing back into the community.

“I am part of the community as well. So, when I was approached, I immediately agreed. I have never had any problems with any of the residents, so this is my way of giving back.”

Steenberg says there’s been a great response from the community.

“Some people have come forward saying they want to sponsor a child for a year. Someone asked me what about the girls and this person will be sponsoring five girls’ hair for a year. We are getting support, but we can do more.”

Steenberg calls on more donors to get involved and support the campaign.

“If people want to donate stationery or want to contribute towards a child’s lunchbox or their school fees, they can do so. We are allowing this to unravel the way God wants it to unravel.”

He adds: “Parents can contact me, there is no criteria for who qualifies, it is open to all. We don’t know people’s circumstances so there are no criteria. Come because you need it.”

  • To get involved contact Steenberg on 083 543 1344. 

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