Jobs hope for blind women




BLIND Bahraini women could soon embark on careers as masseuses.

Twenty-five blind and visually impaired women from around the GCC took part in an intensive massage training course yesterday in Bahrain.

It coincided with a symposium organised by the Friendship Society for the Blind on Empowering Disabled Women in Alternative Careers, which took place earlier in the day at Al Hekma Society for Retirees in Isa Town.

After the symposium, spearheaded by the society’s Child and Women Committee, participants were given massage training by blind Saudi masseur Hussni Bugis.

‘I lost my sight when I was 40 years old because of glaucoma and thought that my life had ended,’ said Mr Bugis.

‘I struggled with depression for six years until I heard on the radio about a society that helps the blind in my country and offers them various services.

‘They taught me how to live like sighted people, go to places alone and use the computer.

‘I worked at their human resources department for three years to help blind people find jobs.

‘The idea of working in the massage field came to my mind when I was surfing the Internet for jobs for the blind and found it very suitable for them.

‘I decided to make a plan for myself and start my own project training the blind in massage after getting trained myself.

‘I called Braille Without Borders and they welcomed the idea and offered me a scholarship in the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs in India, where I was taught how to start a business.

‘I also got massage training in a spa in India and got a certificate.

‘Now I have my own clinic called Lamsa (touch) and I train many blind people.

‘However, the job is still unusual to Saudis because of the culture and it is rare to find a blind woman willing to learn massage.’

Child and Women Committee head Sharifa Al Malky explained that blind people experienced a heightened sense of touch, which made them ideal candidates to work in massage.

‘Blind people can feel things better, which is why Braille was chosen as a reading system for them,’ she said.

‘In the past, massage was a career for blind and visually impaired people and I am sure that after this course, many of the participants will choose it as a career as well and learn more about it.

‘They can excel and make a living out of it.

‘All of them were very happy during the course and were eager to learn more.

‘This is just one example of the work they can do and I am sure that the government can widen their choices by introducing other alternative jobs.

‘Our aim is to create awareness of the capabilities and skills of disabled women in general and the blind in particular and we will strive to achieve that.’

During the symposium Labour Ministry Under-Secretary Sabah Al Dossary said around 150 disabled people were found jobs every year by the ministry, ‘in addition to others who are being helped through other entities’.

‘Our job is to pave the way for them to lead an independent life and become a vital member of society,’ he said.

‘Helping the disabled is everyone’s duty.’

The symposium highlighted the capabilities of women with physical disabilities in specialised technical fields and was held under the patronage of Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan.

Society president Hussain Haidar also presented members with mementos.




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