With a recently secured charity status, the With These Two Hands initiative is taking full flight, aiming to make an international difference by teaching hairdressing skills to impoverished people in Ecuador.


Cassandra Weller at the Otavalo Markets in Ecuador

Founded on Cassandra Weller’s own personal experiences in a seven month travel stint through South America, Weller decided to make a difference. Contributing to the training, education and work opportunities of women in these regions, Weller hopes to improve the crime rate and poverty there, where over a third of inhabitants live below the poverty line. Weller will be travelling to Ecuador to start the education in January of 2015, and is looking for experienced volunteers to accompany her on this fulfilling journey.


Cassandra Weller at the Equator in Ecuador

“With These Two Hands is a charity with the primary aim of skilling women out of poverty,” said Weller. “We will be achieving this by training these women in hairdressing to go out and work within their local and broader communities. We want to give them a skill to earn a reasonable living and, hopefully then, realise some self-worth. Ultimately we want to get them out of where they currently are – off the streets.”

Partnering with CENIT, an Ecuadorian charity aimed at educating women, the groups have established a training programme and salon. These resources, together with Weller’s sixteen years of hairdressing experience, have been pivotal to establishing the programme, which will teach skills that yield earning potential.


Piedad, an Ecuadorian woman who Weller will teach to be a leader for the other students

The organisation has been raising funds and awareness on social media and through crowd funding site Chuffed. Another initiative is a Scissor Donation Scheme, where hairdressers are asked to donate old scissors to the programme. These tools will be serviced by Action Sharpening Services, who will be donating their time and services, and matched by Excellent Edges Scissorsmiths. This will help the charity supply the students with not only essential knowledge, but supplies as well.

A fundraising event will be held on the 2nd of September at 6:30pm at Talulah Bar in Newcastle, with entertainment by Soul Mates and prizes to be won. With a distinct Ecuadorian flavour, not only will the food have a South American slant, but bags and jewellery from Ecuador will be auctioned off on the night, in a bid to raise $8000 to go towards the program. Tickets are available at https://www.stickytickets.com.au/17293.


Hand-made jewellery by women in the Ecuadorian community

“We all have busy lives and plenty of commitments, but sometimes it’s enriching to contribute to the improvement of someone else’s life; someone we may not ever meet, but who, without our kindnesses, might suffer when they don’t really need to,” said Weller. “I’m returning to Ecuador in January 2015 to deliver my hairdressing programme because I know there are women there who are desperate to make their own way.”

To become involved in the program or contribute to the Scissor Donation Scheme email cwhairdesigner@gmail.com

For more information visit http://cenitecuador.org/about-cenit or follow the program on social media at www.facebook.com/withthesetwohands