I recently went for my thrice annual hair trim, and I love these sessions because my hair guy and I talk books, music, film and travel. I’ve sent him my top recommendations and links to things I have discovered and we always discuss details of his travels and reading list.

So this time, I asked if he had any fun trips planned and he said he was headed to Cambodia in the fall for a working/volunteer vacation. Intrigued, I asked if it was teaching English, building infrastructure or joining a medical support program. He said he was so excited to be teaching Cambodian sex traffic survivors the high end hair and cosmetology skills to help create a new path for them. It was through an organization called Justice & Soul. The program, started by two passionate activists connected to the beauty and fashion industry, seeks to “transform the lives of trafficked young women, young men and children globally into confident, self-sufficient and financially independent individuals.”

The Kate Korpi Salon has been built to teach sustainable cosmetology skills to survivors of the sex trafficking trade. Located in Phnom Penh, the curriculum is in addition to counseling, financial support, education and the teaching of life skills necessary to make the transition away from their former life. The high-end salon in Cambodia’s capital is where many will ultimately work and teach. There is a US component to the program, seeking to help rescued teens looking for a career in cosmetology. He is so looking forward to this adventure and plans to spend five weeks abroad.

I thought about this trip as I enjoyed my own pampering time in his salon. Joel Messerer is his name and besides being a terrific stylist at San Francisco’s Chop Shop Salon, his manner and demeanor are so pleasant and soothing. I’m sure it will be a challenging trip in some ways but an incredible window into this world so often overlooked by tourists. Salon Philanthropy and a fantastic specialized, pay it forward vacation experience!

Filed Under Asia, Fashion


One Response to “Justice & Soul in Cambodia”

  1. Matthew Fairfax on April 19th, 2016 1:03 am

    Darya - thanks for the great article. Joel (along with his sidekick Rosalee) were such a great addition to our team! The students adored them and our project really benefited from their awesome teaching skills.

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