Last week, 31 Assyrian Christians from the Nineveh Plain and Mosul graduated from a beauty school program where they gained in-demand and necessary skills to work in hair salons and barbershops. The courses were designed to give 16 female and 15 male trainees the basic skills of working with hair and to bring a little glamour back into their lives after two and a half years of persecution at the hands of ISIS.
The courses focused on standard beauty industry skills in women’s and men’s hair design, as well as men’s shaving. HNRO, an Assyrian Christian-run nonprofit in Ainkawa, Erbil organized and led the trainings as Iraqi Christian Relief Council’s on-the-ground partner for this successful project. Organizers held a graduation party this week where cake, certificates, and photos were shared among joyful graduates.
Violet Khamoo, an Assyrian Christian who grew up in Kirkuk and works in Chicago’s beauty industry, serves on Iraqi Christian Relief Council’s board and was proud of the project. She says the training project gave displaced Assyrian Christians much-needed employment skills in a stable industry at home or abroad.
“Whether these trainees stay in Iraq to rebuild after ISIS or go out into the world as refugees, they now have the skills to either open a salon in Iraq, or stand on their feet after resettlement in a new country while they develop language skills,” she says.
Violet says that the beauty industry in Iraq is a profitable business, and future trainings will be planned around hairstyling for parties and weddings, makeup, and skin care. “When I saw their picture holding the diploma I felt very happy. They did something even though they are living in a camp,” says Violet.
The Assyrian Christian trainees came from different towns in the Nineveh Plain and some were from Mosul. They belong to all Christian denominations found in Iraq including Syriac Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Chaldean, and Assyrian Church. All trainees, however, were victims of ISIS and forcibly displaced from their homes in 2014.
Iraqi Christian Relief Council is helping rebuild communities and churches in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain post-ISIS as part of Operation Return To Nineveh. Donate here to support rebuilding.