Mind's Eye Travel Meets Nomad...
While our visually impaired tour group from the US was visiting Namibia, an inspiringly beautiful country in southwestern Africa, we took a break for a spa visit in Windhoek, the capital . . . and found kindred spirits at the Nomad Institute of Holistic Therapy, a training spa for blind people.
In developing countries, the visually impaired rarely receive the same support that they do in America and Europe. The Nomad Institute nurtures visually impaired women from disadvantaged communities in Namibia, empowering them to defy the odds and become active and inclusive members of society. Nomad offers career paths for the blind.
Mariane Akwenye, the director of the Nomad Institute, and I found a kinship right away. My company, Mind’s Eye Travel, arranges tours for VI—visually impaired—people all over the world. (I started this in 2007 when I had lost most of my sight to retinitis pigmentosa.) Mariane has a more important role—since 2008, she has been teaching VI and blind women to support themselves and their families through the skills of African massage, skin hydration, facial cleansing and hand and foot care.
Mariane and her students and staff offer these services at the Nomad Homestead in Windhoek. “Nomad Homestead,” she says, “is an invitation to experience wellness in a new and profound way. This social enterprise is part of a collective committed to sustainability of our heritage and a holistic approach to vocational skills development.”
Drawing on research carried out by the American Institute of Alternative Medicine, Mariane has found that in the absence of visual cues, blind massage therapists are more in tune with the client’s bodily responses to the massage. They have stronger senses of touch and are often able to find trigger points, knots and other areas of tension that clients often didn’t even realize they had.
We visitors from America quickly went from being clients of Nomad to friends and then supporters, resolving to help support the institute’s good works by raising funds among our own friends and supporters. Our fundraising goal will provide the funds for the education, training, transport and housing for ten Nomad students.
Visit the Nomad Facebook page linked below to learn more.