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.”

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