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Showers and Haircuts

We planned to take the homeless people to a shower place and hairdresser for Christmas. It became true today with some funny stories.

Da Houza or “big beard” as his translates into English, a volunteer at the Soup Kitchen found a shower place that was willing to open it’s doors to 50 or more homeless people. We then informed all the volunteers the plan: One week before the Spring Festival, on the Sunday morning 8 o’clock 11th February to about 10 o’clock. Afterwards at 1pm we would run the Soup Kitchen as normal. The cost of the shower per person was four yuan per person, (£0.28p)

I then brought 100 towels and enough bars of soap for everybody. When I arrived at the church, most of the volunteers and many of our regular guests were already eagerly awaiting their adventure. So we organised all of them and escorted them to their shower establishment. In all around 45 people had come to take advantage of this New Year treat.

We hadn’t confirmed the hair dressing the night before, so I went to a hair dressing shop called “jiaodian”. The boss was very nice but she had her difficulties as due to it being the Spring Festival it was of course the busiest time of year so she could help us but could only spare one hairdresser. As to money, she rejected it. I thought one person cutting 30 or more people’s hair would be too slow so I decided to try and find another shop to help us as well, I went to another shop 10 meters away. The boss said to me “come to my shop, we have more people to make it faster.” Then she said “we usually charge 15 yuan for one person (approx. £1), for you 8 yuan is fine.” That actually surprised me so I went away. People are so different.

I decided to eat something first to make myself calm.

Once she began working on her first excited customer, I stood next to her so I could see properly. The first person was an old man who had just finished his shower. When we started cutting his hair we realised that he hadn’t washed his hair. His long hair, after being in the water was all stuck together like a piece of bread, the hairdresser’s tool couldn’t move at all so she had to cut slowly. It was really hard because his hair was full of bugs and knots. This was clearly not her typical customer as it took around 20 minutes to cut just one persons hair. We needed another solution as if we continued like this it would take all day.

Then 110 told us (Avolunteers name - really) that there are many hairdressers at Hanguangmen, a gate in the south of the City wall, but we had to pay some money. He came back 5 minutes later with two hairdressers. They were two middle-aged ladies in big white shirts. They both rode bicycles complete with folded chairs and tool case at the back. They were very happy when they saw that many people were waiting for them, and they said “This is a great place, no policemen.” They shouted “who is first?” and then up stepped their first customer. We explain the situation to the two ladies, quickly understood what was needed. They said “got it! You chose the right people”. Half an hour later there were 17 hairless people around us. They all felt their hair and said “it is nice, it doesn’t hurt”.

Looking at their familiar faces, all the volunteers looked a little tired, but it was almost 12 o’clock and we would soon need to prepare for the Soup Kitchen. We quickly went to get a little lunch before our tasks began again. Luckily more volunteers arrived to serve the food, Wen, Xuelang, Huaer, Changkong, CaiE, Johnson, Jinglingyu, FAY, Shuibing, Zimu, Lanseyoumo, Xiumeizhenzi, Xiefeiyan, Dahuziyijiasankou, Bawangzi, giving the rest of us the opportunity to relax a little.

After that the church was a place which friends recognized each other.

We finished “New Year’s Present” at 2 o’clock. Tony was very happy, he kept on saying “today is wonderful, really wonderful.” I told him it’s called “achievement”

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