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Hairstylist will help continue the work of Mother Teresa in Calcutta

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Tangles hairstylist Peter Perera will be putting away his comb and scissors in a bid to get his hands dirty and help out in an impoverished region of the world.

Mr Perera plans to venture to Calcutta, the third most populous city in India, to volunteer for two weeks with Mother Teresa’s organisation Missionaries of Charity, this September.

The charity, which was established in 1950, currently runs hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis in 133 countries across the globe.

They have schools run by volunteers to educate street children, soup kitchens to feed people in need and offer children/ family counselling programmes.

Their services are provided without charge to people, no matter their religion or social caste.

Mr Perera said he was up for doing any task for the charity and excited to help people less fortunate than himself.

“In my profession I have to dress up and put a lot of effort into myself, but when I am there I just want to get my hands dirty,” he said. “I will scrub floors or wash toilets if I have to.”

Mr Perera will be venturing to Calcutta during a time when tourists typically flee.

Right after the rainy monsoon season the heat can be intense and his chances of getting sick from illnesses like malaria is also higher.

“As much as I am mentally prepared, I am not sure how prepared I am physically and if my body is ready to take on this challenge,” he said. “I have to get a series of vaccinations for everything from rabies to hepatitis and malaria.”

The hairstylist was first inspired to venture to India when one of his clients at the local salon told him about a recent trip to the region.

He thought the adventure sounded fun and started doing his own research online about charity projects available.

He said he was always inspired by Mother Teresa as a teenager and thought she was a fantastic example of a human being — someone who would travel to where there was a need and do something so “powerful” to help others.

The 35-year-old is not new to volunteerism — he also works on Island with the Eliza DoLittle Daily Bread feeding programme and with the Pink Ladies of the Bermuda Hospitals Auxiliary. “I am the pink man,” he said, with a laugh.

The value of helping others was instilled in him from his parents, while growing up in Sri Lanka, he said.

“My parents were into charity. They would take people into the house and feed and take care of them regardless of their colour or race.

“They enjoyed taking care of people and were still grateful for what they had,” he added.

Growing up, Mr Perera said it was humbling to watch his mother make up lunch packages and hand them out to homeless people in his community. From her example he learned the importance of giving back and said it has been rewarding for him to make someone else’s day a little brighter.

He said: “It’s a nice feeling when you go to these people who are dying, sick or just unwell, it’s so important to them to have a little bit of your time.

“When you’re sick people don’t care if their hair looks gorgeous, they don’t talk about fashion and beauty, they simply want to get better.”

Mr Perera is currently trying to get donations from the public to assist with the costs of the expensive trip.

He hopes to also be able to present a donation to the nuns who run the charity so they can purchase food or other supplies.

“So far I have had some donations given to me from my clients, between $100 and $200, and that will go directly to the nuns so they can buy whatever they need, like rice or basic things,” he said.

He wanted to thank his clients for their support and for encouraging him to step out of his comfort zone and do this.

Anyone interested in offering support can e-mail Mr Perera on bleu.jones@yahoo.com or phone 534-1919.

(Photo by Mark Tatem) Peter Perera: Heading to India to help Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
(Photo by Mark Tatem) Peter Perera: Heading to India to help Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
The late Mother Teresa

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Published June 27, 2013 at 9:25 am (Updated June 27, 2013 at 9:24 am)

Hairstylist will help continue the work of Mother Teresa in Calcutta

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