A Vietnamese barber living in the U.S. would return to his home country every two years, with giving free haircuts to needy people always listed among his to-do activities during his time in the motherland.
Le Tuan, who works for a major barber chain in New York, hails from Quy Nhon, the capital city of the south-central Vietnamese province of Binh Dinh.
Every time the 33-year-old visited Vietnam, he would spend time giving away free haircuts at a Binh Dinh-based center for the disadvantaged, and at the Medical University Hospital and on the sidewalk of a street in Ho Chi Minh City.
After-dark haircuts for free
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper visited Tuan the other night, when he was setting up his sidewalk haircut with a chair, a mirror and a set of necessary tools, at a corner of Bui Vien Street in District 1, when it was turning dark.
His first customer of the night as Duong Thach Long, 24, who sat down on the chair filled with doubt.
“Would you like something new?” Tuan asked, offering to give his customer a new hairstyle.
Long was more than pleased when Tuan told him to look into the mirror after finishing the job.
“More active, strange, and daring,” Long described his new haircut.
The later it got, the more customers came to the special haircut stall, most of whom were late-night workers.
“Being able to do something meaningful in the middle of the night is something every Vietnamese living abroad would want to experience,” Tuan said.
Because of his busy schedule in the U.S., Tuan only gets to visit his home country every two years; but whenever he does, he spends time cutting hair gratis.
Not just about cutting hair
It was already 2:00 am but Tuan was still cutting hair for his customer - a street food vendor who finally found a time for himself after a whole day paddling to sell his stuff.
For the customer, getting a new haircut was only a part of the experience as what he valued the most was the pleasant conversation with his overseas Vietnamese barber, which considerably lightened his mood.
And that is exactly what Tuan was striving to do.
Giving others free haircuts late at night was never about cutting hair, but it has always been a way to make others happy and a way for Tuan to pay forward to the land that raised him.
Tuan believes that this small gesture can be a nice surprise for the poor and those who have to work until late night, showing them that there are still people who care.
Echoing Tuan’s view, Tran Van Hung, head of community service office at Medical University Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, believes giving others a free haircut has a positive impact on the patients’ emotional state.
“After getting a new haircut, the patients are in much better spirits,” he said.
“Many patients even ask whether they can get a haircut from Tuan and talk to him next month.”
The young barber’s generosity does not only stop there as he has plans to teach this profession to the less fortunate children so that they have a sustainable livelihood.