“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
The words by Henry David Thoreau never seemed so fitting, particularly considering for the purposes of this story the STAR met up with a young St Lucian barber who’s doing his part to help people in need.
Bannah Suffren, who some may recognize by the tag line, ‘Cutty Ranks’ has embarked on a community outreach program that is touching the lives of young St Lucian boys. The initiative targets less fortunate students who are not able to afford regular haircuts for school and provides a grooming service to those students.
“I decided to start this initiative when I recognized the situation with some of the children when they came to get their hair cut, usually they didn’t have all the money. There was also a situation where as a result of their hair being so unkempt there were certain illnesses they faced—ringworm for example, and its often overlooked because of the length of their hair.”
Suffren spoke of the way children mingled with others in the school setting thus passing on common skin infections, which in some cases they weren’t even aware they had.
“They may not recognize it because it’s hidden under their hair,” the barber explained. “In my profession, when I notice that I treat it at times. I buy some of the creams, shampoo their hair and make sure after I’m done all these things I would sterilize my tools.”
Growing up in the community of Leslie Land Suffren could not escape the poverty situation all around him. He never expected to wind up in this particular profession, but was encouraged by his uncle to make the most of his obvious skill.
My uncle figured he wanted to have me go further with it,” he reveals. “That is one of the other reasons I wanted to give back; I didn’t start this business alone. I started through the help of my uncle, and for that I didn’t have to pay him back a cent. I figured with the skills God blessed me with it would be good to extend it in a very special way, to assist those boys. I would love to see these boys being maintained.”
He added: “This is not a move to be recognized in a special way, nor is it for promotion. I think the more we can get ourselves involved in community projects to help our young people, it will lead them in a good way to remember the good people do for them and they can pass that on. In every way we can those persons who are successful in some way should try to reach out as much as they can.”
During our interview Suffren made it known that the present high unemployment rate the island faced helped shape his decision to undertake the endevour.
“I really wanted to help the situation where mothers are not able to manage with the regular haircuts those boys need,” he said. “These boys need to have their hair groomed every two weeks at least, and sometimes students are left without a hair cut for six months. Usually they stay at
home because their
parents don’t have the money. They don’t get the chance to go to school regularly. I figured it would be beneficial to set up this program and put an end to that situation for these children.”
In December 2011 Suffren approached the ministry of education in an attempt to share the idea, and determine how it could be accomplished.