Make-up artist Lauren Kravchenko tells Liz O’Reilly how a simple post on Facebook has led to an organisation that’s becoming a force for good.
Mum-of-one Lauren has been in Bahrain for a year with her US Navy husband and for all that time she has thought about putting her skills as a trained make-up artist to use, to give back to the community.
She says: “One day I just decided ‘Right, I’m going to do this’, and I put a post on Mums in Bahrain on Facebook saying I would like to offer my skills to women who have lost their hair through illness or cancer treatment. I wanted to help them feel good about themselves again.
“I was absolutely overwhelmed by the response. So many people got in touch saying they too wanted to help, with things from donations to offering their skills.”
In fact, such was the initial feedback that Lauren set up a Facebook group – Feeling Gorgeous Glam Squad – which now has 75 members, both Bahrainis and expats. Supporters range from health and beauty professionals to others who simply want to keep in touch and show encouragement.
Two of the first to sign up were nail technician Hina Sameer and image consultant Emma Hatfield, both of whom were keen to offer their services alongside Lauren.
Members donated items such as wigs, scarves, picture frames (for the ladies to capture their special day) and cash, that has been used to buy supplies such as false eyelashes.
Others handed over gently-used make-up which Lauren has sanitised for use on clients – this aspect is particularly important since the women’s immune systems may be compromised through their treatment.
A group of ladies at the US Naval Base also joined in and put together boxes of toiletry products which are to be donated to cancer fighters.
Within a couple of weeks the Glam Squad had us first client, and Lauren says: “It was a truly uplifting experience for all of us.
“It was a lady who is fighting breast cancer and is in the process of going through chemotherapy, so she has lost her hair. The look on her face when she saw her eyes with lashes again was so emotional and touching; it made her look like herself again. Emma was able to show her some scarf techniques and, because of the scarf donation, we were able to give her the scarves so she can do them herself.”
Lauren also teaches make-up, so she makes sure the ladies are able to recreate her looks after the pamper session, giving them confidence to go forward looking their best.
She says: “From talking to people, I was amazed to find that there was not something like this available for cancer survivors and those fighting the disease. The impression I’m getting is that, in local culture, it is something that’s not discussed, so I hope our group can send a message of awareness as well as helping women to feel gorgeous again.
“This was something I was ready to do just by myself, to give back in my own way. But the response has been amazing. Cancer and its treatments can rob women of their feelings of femininity. What we want to do is give them a special day, to give back some of the strength you lose when battling this disease.”
There are two more clients lined up, one of whom was put in touch through her healthcare provider. And though Lauren herself will only be here for another year or so, she hopes the group will be well enough established by the time she leaves that it can keep serving women long into the future.
Lauren can be contacted on 36 664-652.