A guest post by Joy-Anne Goodenough.

I heard about Eslinah Magemgenene, a blind massage therapist, from two colleagues of mine at the Portfolio Collection offices in Newlands. Eslinah works from Sureslim Wellness Clinic on Dean Street, just 3 doors down from us. These two colleagues raved about Eslinah’s massages so much that I decided I just had to try her out for myself.

Eslinah’s hands are strong, her touch is sure and I could feel that she was present in the room and not on auto-pilot. She spoke seldom (which I always prefer) and in a soft almost-whisper. The room is simple and quite dark – of course Eslinah doesn’t need the light on and lying in the semi-dark was peaceful and almost womb-like. At the end of the massage it felt completely natural to have her hug me before I left.

I’ve been for a great many massages in the past 10 years, some excellent, some not that great, but Eslinah definitely has a special and unique style and touch and I literally left her care feeling lighter, more peaceful and 100% relaxed. And her rates are ridiculously low, so I was sure to give her a generous tip!

Eslinah agreed to have me come back and quiz her on her life, her loss of sight 15 years ago and how she has used her disability to create a career of caring for others through touch.

eslinah_1Joy-Anne Goodenough: Where do you come from Eslinah?

Eslinah Magemgenene: I can say for sure I am a Capetonian – I was born here and have lived in Cape Town my whole life.

JAG: Were you born blind?

EM: No. I lost my sight on 28 December 1992, 3 weeks after the birth of my second child. The cause was Glaucoma.

JAG: How did you come to terms with the loss of your sight? Did it take a long time before you reached a point of acceptance?

EM: To accept my blindness was not an easy thing. It helped me to meet other people with various disabilities. I joined the League of the Friends of the Blind in Grassy Park and they helped me with practical things; to learn Braille, to manage my life around the house, to cook as a blind person. This also helped me to accept my blindness.

JAG: Many people would wallow in self pity or think they cannot live a full life if they have a handicap but you have not done that. What gave you the inner strength to build a new future for yourself?

EM: I was born a strong and brave person. I have been through lots of drama and trauma in my life and that also made me strong. It’s not easy, but the fact remains, I have to move on. I am a little scared but I am not too scared. I can face the challenges of life.

JAG: What led you to massage and where did you train?

EM: When I was young I used to ‘massage’ my parents – we called it rubbing. I have creative hands and I learn quickly. I can do lots of things with my hands, like knitting. My hands, I can say, are blessed.

eslinah_2I got the opportunity to learn massage through a lady from the Western Cape Blind Association who had read about blind people learning to massage in a newspaper article. A group of 5 of us was selected – they watched us doing pottery and chose us because of how we used our hands. We studied at the School of Holistic Aromatherapy in Observatory. We studied aromatic plants, concentration and blending of aromatherapy oils as well as anatomy and physiology.

I passed Aromatherapy with 86% and Anatomy and Physiology with 88%. After that I began to work in 2001.

JAG: Have you had any negative experiences with clients?

EM: Not often. Sometimes a person comes in who is full of negative energy and I have to block myself from taking that in because I don’t want to pass it on to my other clients. I try to give them peace and love through my massage and to protect myself. Those people I can feel need love.

JAG: Having had many massages in my life time, I truly found my massage with you to be a genuinely healing experience on a number of levels. Do you think you were born with “healing hands” or are they something you’ve developed over time?

EM: Both. I think I have a gift of healing – I am a healer. I love my work and I feel that I am helping another human being. I heal with touch and I also can heal from listening and talking to some of my clients if they have come from a hard situation. They can hear about my life and it helps them.

There is so much sadness out there. People need to be touched. They can come in here blocked up and it can help them open up by sharing.

JAG: What does massage therapy give to you as the therapist?

EM: When I have a lot of work, I am filled with energy. When I don’t have enough work my energy level drops. I get inner strength the more I work. I love to be busy!

Massage Rates (subject to change):
Lymph Drainage OR Deep Tissue Massage – Back, neck, head & shoulders – 1 hour – R180*
Lymph Drainage OR Deep Tissue Full Body Massage – 1.5 hours – R200*
Bookings: 021 689 5126 OR sureslim@iafrica.com
Address: 43 Dean Street, Newlands

*prices valid for 2010 – please contact SureSlim for current prices.

Interview & photographs by Joy-Anne Goodenough.

About the author:
Joy-Anne is the Editor of the Portfolio Travel Blog, part of the renowned Portfolio Collection’s new website, which offers luxury South African accommodation options. The Portfolio Travel Blog is a great place to read up on all things ‘South Africa’ – true life safari and travel tales from readers, good news stories, latest books from local authors, South African food and wine, great photography, and interviews with interesting and inspiring South Africans, such as the one published above.
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