Social Issues

Guatemala’s barber-on-wheels offers free haircuts

By David Toro Escobar

Guatemala City, Mar 10 (EFE).- “Pepe the Barber” and his specially equipped tricycle have become a familiar sight in the center of the Guatemalan capital.

“This Bicy-Barbershop is a project conceived for the streets of Guatemala City and aims to provide free haircuts to those who need it,” Jose Kchaire, 34, tells EFE.

Amid the heat of a Central American morning, Kchaire, who earns his living as the director of a school where young people learn the art of haircutting, parks his tricycle under some trees and sets up shop.

“A barber is someone who is trained to serve others,” he says. “A haircut can change your look and that influences your self-esteem and projection.”

Jose doesn’t have to wait long for his first customer, a tradesman named Jorge who is looking for a new hairstyle.

The tricked-out trike draws looks from the office workers, bricklayers and vendors who walk past and Kchaire says he got the idea from seeing a bicycle-mounted barber in Spain.

But while the Spaniard charged for his services, Kchaire describes his objective as “essentially altruistic.”

In a country where nearly 60 percent of the population lives under the poverty line – and 15 percent subsist on less than $1 a day – a free haircut represents a substantial savings.

Kchaire has modified two tricycles for use as mobile barbershops and he hopes to find another volunteer to join him in offering free haircuts.

“Small actions” can help Guatemalans overcome economic difficulties, Jose says while sweeping up a client’s hair from the street. EFE dte/dr

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