September 28, 2023

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Inclusive Massage Therapy Training for Visually Impaired Individuals: ROCOCS and RUB’s Empowerment Project

By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

The Rwanda Ophthalmic Clinical Officers and Cataract Surgeon Society (ROCOCS) and the Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB) have joined forces to launch an inspiring project aimed at enhancing employability and vocational training capacity for individuals with visual impairment in Rwanda.

This Rwf 25 million groundbreaking initiative supported by the UNDP and the Rwanda Governance Board, focuses on training visually impaired individuals in the art of massage therapy, tapping into their unique skills and talents.

According to Dr. Donatilla Kanimba, the Executive Director of the Rwanda Union of the Blind: “the project called Sports and Massage Therapy Course, It’s a training course for blind people in massage therapy.”

She explained that “The program aims to increase employable skills for people with visual impairment but also to help them to get jobs and to be self-employed.”

“And that will also help Rwandans to receive quality massage therapy because it is a known fact that blind people are better at physiotherapy and massage.” She added.

Dr. Donatilla Kanimba believed that Persons with visual impairment can do better

The launch of the massage therapy training program for visually impaired individuals which took place in Masaka, marks a significant step towards inclusivity and empowering those with visual impairment to excel in their chosen careers.

Despite the fact that RUB and ROCOCS, in collaboration with donors, continue to find a way of life for the visually impaired by teaching them skills, Rwandan society still faces the problem of undervaluing the skills of the visually impaired.

Health experts find this perception to be very misleading because their abilities are greater than what some people think.

“In reality, when one faces a problem with blindness, although it may be challenging, it does not signify a complete halt to everything. The brain continues to function, constantly working. Numerous examples exist, such as witnessing the Orchestra of the Blind flawlessly playing music, where their blindness would be indiscernible. Similarly, observing competent massage therapists who excel in their craft while effectively explaining their techniques.” said Dr. Hanyurwimfura Jean Damascene, Director General of Masaka Hospital

“Despite their visual impairment, these individuals are remarkably capable…I would like to inform others that a person with a visual impairment is just like any other individual – someone who is capable of being productive and earning a living.” He added.

According to Ms. Mushimiyimana Hosiane, the Coordinator of the project that was launched, employers should provide opportunities to individuals with visual impairment and evaluate them based on their performance.

In Rwanda, individuals with visual impairment often face unique challenges when it comes to finding suitable employment opportunities.

However, ROCOCS and RUB are determined to change this narrative by providing comprehensive training in massage therapy. The organizations firmly believe that visual impairment should not hinder one’s ability to excel in a chosen field.

The massage therapy training program developed by ROCOCS and RUB is designed to provide visually impaired individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue a successful career in this field. The program encompasses theoretical and practical training, ensuring that participants receive a well-rounded education.



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