Picture: Kelly-Jane Turner

Cape Town - The Light and Healing Centre in Cape Town trains and empowers the visually impaired to become massage therapists and specialise in aromatherapy. 

“The most incredible thing for me was the touch of a blind person. Their intuitive electricity that goes through their hands is quite amazing,” said Avril Hoepner executive director of the centre

Students training at the centre attend classes, receive braille notes and complete practical training weekly at the Western Cape Blind Association in Salt River. The course runs for a period of 18 months with an average of eight people in the group. 

The course includes learning modules such as the history of aromatherapy, the study of the carrier oils, the study of 10 body systems and practical massage techniques and strokes.

“We're transforming a society that has been neglected and we are giving opportunities for blind people to be healers. You just have to have a massage to understand how amazing it is,” said Hoepner.

Aromatherapy student Louise Swanepoel said the course has been a way for her to become independent. “I'm visually impaired, so I need to be independent. I need to move forward in life and I can't just sit in a corner. I have to do something and this is what I enjoy,” she said.

Video: Kelly-Jane Turner

The centre also has a number of in-house massage therapists who offer a wide variety of treatments at affordable rates. Hoepner says, “it's a real win-win situation because I'm trying to get people who can't really afford to go out and treat themselves at spas, plus it gives our therapists work”. 

This article is part of the Sapa+ #Empower campaign.