Somaliland: A Short Back and Sides


A trusting customer lets Khadar Haishe cut his hairMy head has never really suited a buzz cut. Having my hair cut too short only draws attention to the fact that my head is what nice people would call small and the less kind ‘pea-shaped’.

In a country where short hair is universal for men, it was with some trepidation that I sat in the barber’s seat.

“Just use the scissors please. A bit off the sides and top, but not too much,” I say to Khadar Haishe, the owner of the barbershop.

Khadar smiles at me and nods before turning around and reaching into a draw. ZZZZZZZ is the sound the clippers make as his hand remerges.

“On second thoughts,” I say as I jump out of the chair, “maybe it’s best you cut his hair instead,” gesturing enthusiastically to the customer who came in shortly after me.

“It will make it easier for us to talk,” I tell Khadar. He just smiles again and waves the new customer towards the seat. To be honest, I don’t think he is fooled in the slightest.

New in town

Khadar Haishe’s barber shop has been in business for just four months now.

Like thousands of others, his family live in one of the two refugee camps in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa.

In fact he is just one of over 90,000 internally displaced people (IDP) in Somaliland who are invariably some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the country.

With no welfare system to support them, many families, just like Khadar’s, are left extremely vulnerable to the harsh realities that living in an IDP camp entails.

Four months ago, Khadar worked for someone else. His income wasn’t enough to support his whole family and they would often go without food.

Everyday his wife would leave the youngest children alone and go searching for work.

When times got really tough his children would walk the streets to look for money, doing odd jobs like cleaning cars and washing clothes. None of them went to school.

For the first time

Four months on and life has changed for Khadar and his family.

He was given the start-up costs to initiate a new business as part of Save the Children’s SCORE Project. By improving the economy of his family, it’s hoped that his children will have a better quality of life and be able to escape some of the challenges that growing up in a camp involves.

“This money has changed all of our lives.” Khadar tells me. “Now I own all of this (he gestures to show off the inside of his barber shop). My children no longer have to work and my wife is able to stay and look after the younger ones. For the first time in their lives I am making enough money to send my children to school and feed them well.”

As I get up to leave, Khadar stops cutting his customers hair, “Come again tomorrow and I’ll cut your hair,” he tells me. “Sounds great Khadar, I’ll see you then,” I reply.

He smiles at me one last time and I know he isn’t fooled for a second.

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