The ministry of a haircut during a pandemic

Tetiana Ohyria knows that a haircut is about so much more than looking good. As a professional stylist in Ukraine, she sees her job as a way to dignify others and bring joy to her community. “I make them look nice, and they smile. My calling is to help people!” she says.

As early as 6 years old, Tetiana knew she wanted to be a hairstylist. Her parents weren’t sure of the practicality of her decision and suggested other career paths. But Tetiana was determined to make her dream a reality. After cosmetology school, she began to work in a shared salon space in a nearby city, where she spent 30 years developing her skill set and building a loyal clientele.

Over time, Tetiana’s landlords stopped contributing to the upkeep of the building, and the salon became run-down. Sharing a workspace with other stylists presented challenges as well since Tetiana had little control over her schedule. She began to dream of what it would be like to open her own salon, and soon found the perfect space in a nearby village, closer to many of her clients as well as her elderly mother.

But having recently spent her savings on urgent home renovations, she lacked the capital to rent it out.

One day, a customer shared with Tetiana about their experience with HOPE Ukraine and recommended she consider a loan for her new salon. Tetiana was skeptical—At first I was waiting for some kind of trick. You know, it can’t be that the terms are so good,” she recalls. After learning more about HOPE, Tetiana says, “I realized that it was just who you are—honest and reliable.”

She chose to pursue a loan with HOPE Ukraine and soon moved into her own salon space.

Tetiana with a HOPE Ukraine staff member as her customer.

As Tetiana’s business has grown, she’s become better resourced to provide not just for her family, but those in her community as well. “My motto is to care for my neighbor. … I can provide for myself and help others,” she says.

A HOPE Ukraine staff member commented about Tetiana:

She carries light to others with her life.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tetiana has made it a priority to care for the spiritual and emotional well-being of her customers. “I could not leave people untidy during quarantine,” she says. “After all, depression can develop if they don’t look well!”

In the future, Tetiana plans to continue renovating her salon and dreams of one day owning the building in full. In the meantime, she continues to serve her customers with joy—“It’s such a happiness, when you do what you love and get paid for it!”

Watch this short video to see how entrepreneurs in underserved communties, who often struggle to access the capital they need, find the support they need to put their gifts and talents to work and flourish.

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As Christ’s followers responding to His great love, HOPE International seeks physical, social, spiritual, and personal restoration in places of brokenness. Through Christ-centered economic development, we empower men and women to strengthen their families, build their businesses, and unleash their dreams.

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