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Magic in their hands

Fri, 06/07/2013 - 14:52 -- deepti.gahrotra

A reflexology session leaves Vipasha Sinha not only relaxed, but also inspired. From a clutch of visually-impaired therapists, she learns what it means to make the most of life

A testimony in the feedback book of Naturals Beauty Salon on R.K. Salai: “Uthira Kumar has magic in his hands.” You know it is true when he gets to work. Like a magician sending his subjects into a trance at a snap of his fingers, 30-year-old reflexology therapist Uthira has his clients feeling drowsy by skilful use of his fingers on their feet.

There is something else that makes Uthira Kumar special: he is visually-impaired, just as most other reflexology therapists at this salon are. An accident in 2005 claimed Uthira’s eyesight. “My optic nerve was severely damaged and I lost my sight. My family could not handle the trauma of my condition. My siblings and I were fed with poison. I somehow survived, but my two sisters and brother did not make it through,” says Uthira, who is an inspiration to all his colleagues.

He did not know what to do with his life until he came to the National Institute for Visually Handicapped (NIVH).

At the institute, he went through an ‘Adjustment Course’ aimed at helping the visually-impaired become self-dependent.

When he learnt about the five-month reflexology course offered by Naturals in collaboration with NIVH, he wanted to give it a try. Around 25 visually impaired people signed up for this free course and eventually found employment at six Naturals outlets across the state – the ones at R.K. Salai, Kolathur, Spencer Plaza, Express Avenue, Alwarpet and another in Puducherry.

P. Suriyakala, Fabian Augustine, S. Jayaseelan and T. Pandiselvam are the others at the Salon, who have mastered the art of seeing through their hands.

Sensi Maxwell Jude Anthony, chief reflexology trainer, says, “It’s such a pleasure to work with them as they have this ability to follow their instincts and do not take things for granted. Throughout my 22-year-old career as a trainer I have realised that these people learn faster than people with sight as they see through their hands.

One of my students in Puducherry took a client by surprise when he diagnosed that she had a kidney missing just by touching her feet. Startled, she agreed that she had donated a kidney to a relative.”
It was Naturals Co-founder C.H. Ashok Kumar’s idea to bring the visually impaired into the mainstream through such employment options.

“During my trips to countries like Malasiya and China, I witnessed that the profession of reflexology is dominated by people who cannot see. I decided to promote the idea back in our country. The reflexology therapy that already existed here was not as profitable a service as we expected it to be. By employing and training the visually impaired at Naturals would be a win-win situation for both of us.”

Following this, Naturals reflexology began to collaborate with NIVH for this programme, where the Salon and Spa outlet not only trains the visually impaired in reflexology but also employs them.
Naturals reflexology was launched recently by Daniel Kish of Thandavam fame and the President of World Access for the Blind, who also trained these reflexology therapists in eco-location and mobility.

Source: The Hindu

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