A pair of school girls cringed while a teacher, armed with scissors, chopped off their long locks at Nowra Anglican College on Thursday.
Year 11 students Brianna Mitchell and Chloe Wood reluctantly parted with their hair, and raised $650 in the process.
“I know it’s so cliche but I’ve had my hair for so long, it’s just part of me,” Chloe said.
It may take a couple of years for the hair to grow back, but what they plan to do with funds raised could impact kids in Cambodia and Vietnam for many years to come.
They also donated the hair to Variety, a charity that makes wigs for sick children.
The girls will travel to villages in Vietnam and Cambodia, visiting orphanages, planting trees and helping to build essential facilities at schools.
The funds raised on Thursday will be poured directly into school-planting projects, rather than their trips, that have been self-funded.
At 10, Brianna spent a year in Ethiopia with her family.
“I’ve seen first hand a lot of poverty,” she said.
“Although cutting my hair is a very superficial thing, I really want to help kids get a good education and get out of poverty.”
Moving back to Australia was a culture shock.
“It was very shocking,” she said.
“I remember people being so poor but so open-hearted, and then back here, everyone had their own lives and you’re the person who gets themselves higher.
“Over there they rely on each other a lot more.”
She plans to become a midwife and one day return to Ethiopia to improve women’s health care services.
Chloe, who wants to be a detective when she finishes school, believes the trip will be an eye-opener for her.
“I’ve done day stops in Vietnam and Thailand but I didn’t really get a chance to see the people,” she said.
“We do a homestay, that’ll be really interesting to see how they do life.”
So far the group of 22 students, parents, teachers and grandparents travelling with Brianna and Chloe has raised $8000 through Go Fund Me pages, sausage sizzles and raffles.