Namibia is breaking new ground and training visually impaired persons to become message therapists.
The 31-year old Martha Abed is the first visually impaired Namibian to benefit from the program and is also one of the first to start practising in the country.
Abed has been a massage therapist for over three years and has already made a name for herself becoming one of the most sought after therapists in the country.
“Becoming a therapist saved and changed my life. I feel like I now have a purpose in life. This is what I was put on this earth to do,” said Abed.
“When you have a disability, all people want to do is to put you in a box and treat you as someone who is fragile. I have dreams and ambitions. No matter your circumstances, it is important to have drive,” she said.
Abed, who is very determined and hardworking, was born and bred at Ongandjera in the Omusati region, north of Namibia where she was part of a family of six.
Determined to succeed in life and make something of herself, she moved to Namibia’s capital Windhoek in 2015 where she immediately landed on this opportunity.
“I was desperate to find something to do and when this opportunity came, I grabbed it,” she said.
It was as if fate had intervened, when she learned by word of mouth that the owner of Nomad Spa had a program to train disabled massage therapists.
Nomad Spa specializes in holistic treatments through massages. They provide treatments such as executive facials, waxing, body polishes, luxurious massages, hair tinting, manicures and pedicures.
Abed took up the offer to train as a massage therapist and began her training in September 2015 in full body, back and neck massage, as well as foot scrubs.When we were in training, the trainer would take my hands, and then I would follow what she was doing,” she says.
Abed says her trainer demonstrated on her body, for her to feel what she was doing and how she was doing it.
“I was taught how to be patient, friendly and carrying, so as to give customers value for their money,” Martha says.
On a good day, Abed, who has already established a significant client base, receives about seven customers.
“I take my time and pay close attention to my clients’ needs and they are always happy with me,” she says.
The spa not only trains visually impaired persons but also young women looking to venture into this career.
“Many people think that having a disability means that one cannot have a lucrative career, which is not the case,” Martha says.
Being blind has not only given her a heightened urge to succeed, but also the courage to do what many might say is impossible.
“I don’t want people to view and judge me as a blind person or someone with a disability. I want to be treated fairly.” she says.
According to research, Nomad spa is one if not the only spa in Africa with such a program that trains visually impaired massage therapists.
The spa which has received inquiries from people in other African countries, such as Kenya, who are keen to start a similar program has so far trained dozens of women.
Currently, there are two visually impaired therapists at Nomad.