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Meet Sierra Leone’s Essential Workers: The Barber

by Alhassan Lamin
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I am 29 years old. I was born in Kono in Koidu, but my parents moved to Kossoh Town in Hastings when I was 8-months old. Eight years into my career as a professional barber, I have only one regret, which is not pursuing a degree in any one of the universities. Still, there are times when I sit back and assess my personal growth, and I’m grateful for where I am now. Barbering is my life and only source of income; I love my job, and without it, I might have been on the streets doing God knows what. My customers love me, and I make enough to take care of my loved ones.

Coronavirus has significantly depleted my income. I now only earn half of what I used to. Most of my customers don’t come in for haircuts anymore; 90% of my clientele consists of corporate workers, business owners, and people who work a nine to five. I used to open until as late as 11 pm to service my customers. These days people don’t want to get a haircut because of COVID-19. There’s a curfew that limits the movement of people. So when people close up business for the day, their sole aim is to get home, not to run to a barber’s shop to get a haircut.

There was a period when I went up to two weeks without a single customer, but people started coming in one after the other as days went by. By then, I had my handwashing station and sanitizers following all the health tips giving to us by health workers. Before barbing anybody, I sterilize my machine and comb and also make sure even though the customer will have washed their hands in the handwashing station, and I give them a sanitizer to sanitize their hands. It’s challenging having to do the type of work I do in times like these, but hopefully, we get to see the end of this pandemic soon.

Credit: Essential Stories/OSIWA

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