Massage training centre feeling Covid pressure
The Light and Healing Centre is a non-profit organisation that trains the blind to become massage therapists and specialise in aromatherapy, but Covid-19 has brought it to its knees, says Avril Hoepner, the centre’s executive director.
Over the years, the centre has moved from Plumstead to Salt River and other suburbs, but it returned to Constantiaberg Main Road in November. Since the pandemic, business has been almost non-existent and the centre finds itself R50 000 in arrears with its rent and is appealing to the public for support. The centre is also renting out two sunlit rooms for daily hire and is offering to provide outreach therapy in offices and schools. They also have specials for Women’s Month.
“At this time, people are anxious, tearful, depressed, lonely and feeling alienated from each other. We all need a massage but most people can’t afford a luxurious spa,” says Ms Hoepner.
The centre has 17 therapists located throughout greater Cape Town, from Khayelitsha and Simon’s Town to Hanover Park, Manenberg and Claremont.
Ten of the centre’s students are due to graduate later this month from a training course they started in September 2019. According to Ms Hoepner, students previously attended classes at the centre and received braille notes, but the pandemic changed all that and the students in the latest course had to rely on a lot of their course information being sent by WhatsApp.
The centre is now preparing to train another group of students in October.
Ms Hoepner says participants pay for the course but costs are covered for those who cannot afford them.
Tracey Jeffrey, of Claremont, was diagnosed with Usher’s Syndrome, an inherited condition that involves both hearing and vision loss, at age 19. She says the training has helped her to become self-reliant. She now wants to set up her own practice.
She says that since the start of Covid she has encountered many clients with neck tension, which could be due to them spending more time working from home, at a screen, not moving around much.
Ms Hoepner says blind massage therapists’ other senses are more finely tuned to compensate for their loss of sight.
“They can pick up the inner feelings of a person and feel out the root of a problem with intuitive hands. And the client feels comfortable and is not judged about their shape, blemishes and bruises.”
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