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Teenager gives free open-air haircuts to Turkey earthquake survivors

18-year-old Mohammed al-Hamo who learned how to cut hair to earn money now offers open-air haircuts to those displaced by the earthquake.

Teenager gives free open-air haircuts to Turkey earthquake survivors
HATAY, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 19: Hairdressers give haircuts to people displaced by the earthquake at tent camp on February 19, 2023 in Hatay, Turkey. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

When Mohammed al-Hamo was learning how to cut hair to earn money in his spare time, he never imagined he would use his skills in tent camps for Turkey-Syria earthquake survivors. The earthquakes in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6 destroyed much of its settlements and the lives of many. 18-year-old Hamo now offers open-air haircuts to his family and those displaced by the calamity. “If anyone comes, he will for sure give them a haircut,” said his father, Khaled. Hamo uses a cut-throat razor to sculpt his 19-year-old brother Sobhi’s hairline. According to Al Jazeera, the family still has missing relatives since the earthquake wiped out almost 46,000 people and their immediate family escaped unhurt.



 

 

"I had not managed to recover my equipment until now," said Hamo, who retrieved electric clippers, combs, scissors and shampoo from his destroyed home. In addition to free haircuts, his family is also volunteering to help in the camp in a park in the southeastern Turkish city of Antakya. "I started cleaning in a barber shop and then learned to cut hair from there," he said, adding, "I prefer using scissors rather than electric shavers; it shows how skilled a hairdresser is." Hamo's mother sweeps up the hair while he cuts it. "Our moral code tells us to help people, so my sons do it... we don't wait for someone to tell us," Khaled, who assisted in cleaning the camp, explained.

FEBRUARY 19: Hairdressers give haircuts to people displaced by the earthquake at tent camp on February 19, 2023 in Hatay, Turkey. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit near Gaziantep, Turkey, in the early hours of February 6, followed by another 7.5-magnitude tremor just after midday. The quakes caused widespread destruction in southern Turkey and northern Syria and have killed more than 40,000 people. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)
FEBRUARY 19: Hairdressers give haircuts to people displaced by the earthquake at a tent camp on February 19, 2023, in Hatay, Turkey. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit near Gaziantep, Turkey, in the early hours of February 6, followed by another 7.5-magnitude tremor just after midday. The quakes caused widespread destruction in southern Turkey and northern Syria and killed more than 40,000 people. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

 

Many were displaced from their homes and had limited access to proper sanitation, electricity and healthcare. "It feels good to do good things to help others." "I never imagined I’d do this when I learned to cut hair, as I just did it for money to help the family," he said. Hamo threaded his father's eyebrows, tidied up his short hair and left him clean-shaven. "Even in these difficult conditions, we keep moving," said Khaled. Their clothes were left to dry on a washing line behind him. Hamo mentioned that he was preparing to go to university, but because of the damage caused by the earthquake, he will transfer to an institution in the Turkish capital, Ankara. The family fled from Aleppo in Syria and moved to Antakya in 2014, leaving behind the civil war brutality.



 

 

As reported by the BBC, the death toll in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 28,000, and hope of finding more survivors is fading due to clashes between unnamed groups. Many members of the Austrian Army Disaster Relief Unit sought refuge at a base camp alongside other international organizations as a result of hostilities between unidentified parties in the Hatay region. "There is increasing aggression between factions in Turkey," Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Kugelweis said in a statement. "The chances of saving a life bear no reasonable relation to the safety risk." Austria's Ministry of Defense said that the Turkish army stepped in to offer protection, allowing the rescue operations to resume.



 

 



 

 

The German search and rescue group ISAR and Germany's Federal Agency for Technical Relief (TSW) also suspended operations because of security concerns. "There are more and more reports of clashes between different factions; shots have also been fired," said ISAR spokesperson Stefan Heine. Steven Bayer, operations manager of Isar, cited that due to rising security issues, there is an increasing scarcity of food, water, and hope. "We are watching the security situation very closely as it develops," he said. Sivanka Dhanapala, the Syria representative of the UN High Commissioner for UNHCR, said that as many as 5.3 million Syrians may be homeless after the quake. "That is a huge number and comes to a population already suffering mass displacement," he said.

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