A PAIR of hairdressers are preparing to travel thousands of miles to help provide a lifeline to Indian orphans.
Janet Maitland and her colleague Rachelle Summerson-Wright will pass on their skills to teenagers in an SOS Village, in Chennai, South East India.
The idea behind the project is to help the children improve their employment prospects, progress to the major cities and become full-time hairdressers.
Rachelle, from Chester-le-Street, said: “We should learn a lot of things while we’re out there.
“It will be a bit of a culture shock, but just to know that we can change their lives will be great.
“We worry about the bills or the way we look, especially in this industry, but this will make us all sit back and think we’re all very lucky.”
Janet Maitland Hairdressers, which has branches in Hetton and Durham City, has a history of supporting charities and training youngsters.
However, 55-year-old Janet, from Pittington, believes the three-week stay in India is its biggest challenge yet.
“We’ve never attempted anything on this scale,” she said. “It is going to be tough and a lot of hard work.
“We’re going to be staying in pretty basic accommodation and there will be no creature comforts, but hopefully we will make a big difference while we’re out there.”
Officially, 37 per cent of India’s 1.21billion people live below the poverty line, but one estimate suggests it could be 77 per cent.
“Learning a skill so they can provide for themselves is vital,” added Janet. “Once these orphans reach a certain age, they have to live independently.”
For more information, visit www.soscvindia.org.
SOS Children’s Village Chennai was opened in 1979.
It is about 30km from the Chennai city centre, in the suburb of Tambaram.
With more than four million residents, Chennai is the largest city of South India.
The SOS Children’s Village consists of 14 family houses, staff accommodation, a multi-purpose hall and the necessary administration and service area.
The village has its own medical centre, which includes a clinic and rooms for counselling.
It focuses on health programmes for the local community, such as information campaigns on birth control or HIV.
Youngsters usually move from the children’s village to an SOS youth facility in the city, when they start a vocational training course or go on to higher education.
With the support of qualified youth workers, they learn to shoulder responsibilities and develop realistic perspectives for their future.