Mai Quynh Dao, a hairdressing alumni at REACH
Vietnamese fathers use the term “con gái ruou” [wine daugher] to talk about their beloved daughter. It sounds unhealthy, but, in the past, wine used to be very precious.
Mai was a “con gái ruou”, especially as she was the only girl in a family of three children.
“My father was very sweet”, says Mai. “He spent as much time as he could to talk with us, to make friends with us”.
When Mai was a child, she didn’t like school very much. Pursuing Higher education had never been an option for her. Mai didn’t know what her dream nor a pathway for her future was. But her father knew what she was for.
For the longest time, he had seen how Mai was passionate and talented at hairdressing. She very often offered neighborhood kids free haircuts and makeup. While Mai thought this was simply a hobby, her father believed it was an opportunity.
“If you like to do hairdressing, you should learn to do it as well as a professional. That will help you succeed,” Mai remembers her father saying.
Mai’s father urged her to learn to be a real hairdresser.
However, the idea of becoming a hairdresser was delayed when her younger brother got in an accident and suffered brain damage. The medications and treatments for a long time didn't make financial matters any easier on the family. Shortly after that, Mai’s father got sick and died.
After Mai’s father passed away, Mai had to work harder. She engaged in a number of manual jobs in markets and restaurants to earn a living. None of them helped her provide a stable income to support her family.
Despite struggling with earning a living, Mai never forgot her father's words, and kept looking for ways to realize his vision. In an effort to get involved in hair training, she got a part-time job at a hair salon. It was near the restaurant where Mai worked, so she walked there to work during every break.
Even though she put in a lot of effort and took a lot of initiative, Mai was never given any responsibilities beyond washing hair.
“I never had a chance to try something different”, Mai says. “They never instructed me how to do it, or let me do it on my own”.
One year later, Mai found REACH where she accelerated her professional skills.
Starting the training later than her classmates, Mai lacked confidence at first. But with the support of her teacher, and her determination, Mai caught up with her classmates within a week.
REACH brought her a completely new and exciting experience. She was able to practice hairdressing skills that she had never done before.
“I was very nervous when I dyed hair for my classmate for the first time. I did it following the recipe that I was taught, but I was still not sure if I did it right”, Mai recalls about an unforgettable moment. “But her hair turned out looking perfect, and I cried in happiness”.
Mai was placed in Hong Duyen salon after graduation where she took the next step on her pathway to becoming a hairdresser. Working in a professional salon, Mai gained a lot more skills in an incredibly short time.
Mai is now the owner of a hair salon in her hometown. With Mai’s support, her brother took a training course in men’s hairdressing, and is currently working at Mai’s salon. They have plans to expand their business in the future.
Despite It being a long time, Mai still remembers her father and their shared dream.
“I wish my father could see how great I did, and how successful I am now,” Mai says softly.
We believe that if Mai's father was still alive, he would be very proud of her, like we are. With our commitment to supporting disadvantaged youth, seeing our students’ succeed is the best reward we could ask for.
This is the reason for and the mission of REACH.