Blind Machakos woman earns a living by giving massages

Watching Evelyne Nzioki give a massage therapy to a client, you would not tell she is visually impaired.

She has been doing this for a living for six years in Machakos town.

Nzioki learnt Japanese massage techniques in a two-year course at Machakos Technical Training Institute for the Blind. She charges Sh1,000 per hour and serves about four people per day.

“When I get a client, I do my best work. This way they can recommend their friends and family,” she said.

The therapy helps relax muscles, regulate blood flow and ward off diseases such as diabetes, pressure, minor stroke, as well as beat general fatigue. Nzioki is a lecturer at the institute, but is appealing for formal employment by the Machakos government.

In 2007, the school received volunteers from the Japan International Cooperation Agency to train students Shiatsu, a Japanese massage technique.

Trainers went to kisumu

Instructor Catherine Muthengi said the training takes them through the human anatomy, life skills, dressing a massage bed or table, entrepreneurship, engaging clients and special needs. 

The institute has trained more than 30 people. 

The institute marketed itself by demonstrating the trainees’ skills to hotels and resorts in Mombasa and Diani. Currently, two are employed in the hospitality industry in the city. In 2016 Jica took its volunteer trainers to Sirki Technical Training Institute in Kisumu, leaving the Machakos facility with no trainers. 

Principal Nduku Mutua said they now rely on the first lot of trainees to teach new students.

Nzioki is a beneficiary of a plan by the government to reduce the unemployment rate through Technical and Vocational Education and Training. The plan involves increasing training opportunities to 3.1 million, up from the current 180,000. 

However, a draft presented in March last year shows TVETs have faced challenges, including low enrolment, lack of incentives from investors and inadequate support partnerships, among others.