Prize-winning masseur repays the love shown by his many donors
As a child, Tenzin spent just half a day in standard education.
“I couldn’t see the characters written on the blackboard, so I had to quit,” said the Tibetan, who has low vision. He was 7 years old.
His disability made it impossible for Tenzin to learn at his local school in Qushul county. Fortunately, when he was 9, he was among the first batch of students enrolled at Braille Without Borders.
Tenzin spent five years learning Tibetan, Chinese, math and computers at the school, and another three studyingWestern and Chinese massage styles. He later went on a six-month training course at Beijing Union University, where he obtained an intermediate massage qualification.
By 15 he was working as a masseur and was his family’s breadwinner.
Today, he owns Tenzin Blind Massage Center, which is near Jokhang Temple, an attraction for Buddhist pilgrims and tourists. His business employs 10 people with partial sight.
“It’s about repaying the love from everyone who cared and supported me in the past and helped me pursue true happiness,” said the 30-year-old, who in 2011 won a regional massage contest. “I consider the center a contribution to carry forward the love given to me by many donors.
“I know how a person who cannot see can feel, and I know what difficulties they may encounter,” he said. “It’s hard for visually impaired people likeme to find jobs. I’m glad that at my massage center they can find dignity and experience a life worth living.”
One of his employees, Pema Wangchuk, 24, said working for Tenzin is relaxing because he is more of a father figure than a boss. Whenever someone needs help, he steps up without hesitation, he said.
“He is a guiding light in our hearts,” added Gyaltsan Norbu, a fellow masseur. “Whatever jokes we make with him, he never gets angry. Some of us have parents, some don’t, but he acts like a parent on most occasions. We work together, have meals together, we are like a big family.”
Tenzin said his center, which has been running for five years, can make as much as 8,000 yuan ($1,300) a month during the summer, the peak tourist season, and about 2,000 yuan during quiet periods.
“An increasing number of people now have massages. Some have diseases and others suffer from heavy work pressure,” he said, explaining that many truck drivers frequent his center due to leg problems. “They say they can drive, but they cannot walk.”