Free Haircut for the Homeless

Vietnam Unique Stories: Free Haircut for the Homeless by a Cyclist Barber


Nguyen Van Phap starts his cause after sunset when he is out of his shop. He unloads his box of dressing tools and stroll down the streets of Saigon to provide a free haircut for the homeless in his town.

Phap understood how challenging life can be. Choosing a career can be tricky and confusing as you grow. He went on to different jobs and studied where he met his current teacher and started practising the profession he is in. Gaining a stable job, he would sometimes treat homeless people with gifts.

His cause started when he first saw several homeless people sitting on a field trying to trim their own hair – this scene made his heart ache. He knew he had to do something about it.

From there, he refurbished a bicycle given by one of his colleague, bought a chair to sit on just like how it is at the barbershop. Phap had to borrow some money to start his journey, due to the pandemic – money was scarce. However, many had supported him with his idea and albeit all the physical work boils onto him, he is more than happy.

Phap rides his bicycle at night after his work at a shop. He would meet unfortunate people along the way where he would approach them and gladly offers free haircut. He meticulously trims their hair, making sure it is neat and clean to look at – like it was in an actual barbershop.

Every person with different walks of life that Phap meets on the street is his customer – wandering children, an old man selling lottery tickets, motorcycle drivers and many more. He would usually entertain his customers through various conversations about life. He would often end up in tears hearing street life stories such as a random homeless man who gets his daily staple through picking up bottles in the morning and at night, lays on a free space at the streets to sleep with his blanket and pillow. Another time was when he trimmed a 10-year old girl’s hair and he just had to ask her about where her parents were. The girl then told him her mother abandoned her and unfortunately, her father went missing two years ago. The girl had nowhere to go thus she stayed living on the streets of Saigon. The story was just too agonizing for Phap that he was unable to continue trimming after the girl’s hair.

Phap can usually be seen on the streets of Saigon wearing a clown outfit. According to him, he chose this outfit as it is inviting to homeless people. There have also been times wherein he had to bring his bicycle all the way to Dalat to offer free haircuts for the homeless. With a distance of approximately 10 kilometers from the city, cycling can be very exhausting given the path going there is steep.

He was able to invite people at the town square for a free haircut. He usually goes back at the place once or twice a year to give time for their hair to grow and trim them back again.

Despite the challenges, Phap loves what he is doing for the homeless. He learns a lot of things about life, the true face of difficulty and makes him appreciate more of what he has. He sees the task fulfilling and useful to the society that he belongs to. For him, it’s not about the amount of money he is able to give but rather more on being sincere in helping people through his own little way. In the future, he wishes to purchase a refurbished car to easily access more places in nearby cities and provinces offering free haircuts to more homeless people.

There are a lot of unique stories around the world and Vietnam is not an exemption with its colorful culture and history.

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