Mumbai’s Metta spa, a place filled with visually impaired masseurs
It looks like any other normal spa from outside, but once we step into Metta spa, we feel the difference!! That’s because, its owner, Joanita Figueredo hires only visually impaired masseurs. Joanita Figueredo is trained in foot reflexology at the Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai, Thailand. However, she chose to practice as a yoga teacher.
I used to charge just Rs 100 for an hour, so people started taking me for granted and I was kept waiting outside doors for a long time. Many well-wishers asked me to hike my fee. Like they say in Mumbai, unless you are expensive you are not in demand. Once I increased my fees, I suddenly became one of the most sought after yoga teachers in town at the age of 43, so much so that I even managed to indulge in my love for diamonds with the fees. Also, that was the time when I was approached by NAB to teach visually impaired students, foot reflexology, said Joanita.
The call from the National Association for the Blind (NAB) requesting Joanita to teach their students foot reflexology, completely changed her life. During the teaching, she came across some of the very talented students. Joanita was very confident about her students and hence, in 2007, she took the decision to open a foot reflexology centre, in an attempt to give employment to the talented visually impaired students.
I was in for a surprise when I went there. These visually impaired students were gifted, I just couldn’t stop going gaga over them. Perhaps not in theory, but in the practical tests they were extremely good. I wanted to give them 500 out of 100 each time and they were delighted on hearing that. Six months later another batch of students came in, but my older lot was still unemployed.
My kids were not hip and happening like the other employees at these spas; they are from villages across the country. These spa owners probably thought visually impaired girls and boys wouldn’t fit in with the image of their parlours. But I was confident of their talent. So, overnight, in 2007, we decided to open a foot reflexology centre and I sold my diamonds to get the funds in place. Joanita added.
Joanita started with only four employees. She borrowed Rs 20,000 from her husband to manage their salaries. But that was eight years ago!! Now, all her employees can afford a healthy lifestyle in the dream city, Mumbai. Started with four, now there are fifteen visually impaired masseurs in Joanita’s Metta spa.
There is no greater joy than watching my employee’s book flats with their money, or seeing them take flights to their hometowns. I just feel happy to have helped them to achieve their goals in a small way, says a satisfied Joanita.
Image Credit: tripadvisor