Trauma survivor gives back by working with sexual trafficking survivors in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Back in Shoreline, Amber poses in front of the
James Alan Salon where she works
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

By Gabrielle Yetter

When Amber LeMaster was hired as a stylist by Shoreline’s James Alan Salon and Spa in 2011, she felt there was something bigger in store for her.

Less than three years later, she was on a flight to Cambodia where she spent six weeks volunteering with survivors of abuse at the Kate Korpi Salon and Training Academy in Phnom Penh.

Amber with Matthew Fairfax at the
Kate Korpi Salon in Phnom Penh

The Cambodian salon is the brainchild of Matthew Fairfax, owner of James Alan, who created the Justice and Soul Foundation that provides training, expertise, and restoration to young women and men rescued from sex trafficking and abusive situations. It opened in 2014 and Amber was one of the first educators to volunteer her services.

“When I started work at James Alan, Justice and Soul was just getting started and I knew instantly that this was my calling,” said Amber. “I’d always known I wanted to do some sort of community service around humanism so this was perfect.”

In preparation, Amber created a GoFundMe campaign to raise the capital for her journey and was given vacation time and funds from her colleagues who absorbed her clientele for the time she was away.

“It also really itched my travel bug,” she said. “It’s very rare that your boss lets you go traveling for six weeks and it provided me with an opportunity I’d never otherwise have had. I didn’t really know what to expect but I knew I was in for an awesome experience.”

Amber at the Kate Korpi Salon in Cambodia

Amber’s role at the salon consisted of training young Cambodians in hair design as well as working as a stylist doing cuts and color for the salon’s clientele.

“I met the students when I came straight from the airport with Matthew,” she said. “When I walked in, the energy was upbeat and bright and I saw four smiling faces come at me from all sides of the salon. They were so warm and inviting and curious and I was so excited so we all jumped around a little and had fun together.

“As a survivor of trauma myself, I believe there is a link between humanism and teaching and that education is one of the ways you can be restored and come through it all. I celebrated my 29th birthday in Cambodia, participated in a spiritual ceremony at the Phnom Penh riverside where nobody spoke English, received a blessing from monks in Siem Reap and watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat. Wherever I went, I felt safe and everything was easier than I’d expected.

Thank you notes from the students are on display in the
James Alan Salon and Spa in Shoreline

“Getting to know the students was so humbling and enriching. They became like family and it's awesome to know I contributed to giving these survivors a new path. Phnom Penh became like a second home to me and I made friends I will have for life. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I can’t wait to go back.”


Post a Comment

We encourage the thoughtful sharing of information and ideas. We expect comments to be civil and respectful, with no personal attacks or offensive language. We reserve the right to delete any comment.

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by 2009

Back to TOP