October 25th, 2010
by Vanessa Senecal
Before arriving in Uganda to volunteer with Shanti, I wasn’t sure how much I would use my training in massage. I have been working in B.C. as a registered massage therapist for the past five years, but Shanti Uganda is a maternity centre, not a massage clinic, so I thought that it would be my doula training that would be of the most use. I also was unsure of how Ugandans would feel about massage, if they would be accepting of it or if it would be totally alien to the culture here.
Upon beginning my work here, I soon found that the midwives at the maternity centre were very curious about massage therapy, and eager to learn more about the usefulness of massage, in prenatal care as well as during labour. They were also keen to learn some massage techniques for self-care – as many of them mentioned having a sore back from their work.
Over a two day period I led a couple of massage therapy workshops for the midwives. We discussed some benefits of massage and watched two interesting videos: “MotherTouch – Nurturing Touch for Birth” and “MotherTouch – Touch Techniques for Birth”. We reviewed some specific massage techniques that they could use; doing some hands-on practice of ones that would be particularly useful during labour. They were quite keen on adding more tools to their labour “tool box”.
We had fun going over some self-care massage techniques, and they were asking me lots of questions about how to relieve headaches, low back pain, calf cramps etc. The midwives partnered up and practiced the techniques on each other. In addition to these workshops, over the course of the next week I gave each one of the midwives a massage (on my massage table that I had brought with me to Uganda). It was the first massage that each of them had ever received, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. I also gave each one of them a few stretches to try out, some of which we all practiced on the floor together – quite a funny sight!
I also led a massage workshop with our women’s group. They were just as eager to learn as the midwives were. I taught them a few basic principles of massage and shared with them some of the reasons why massage is especially beneficial for people with HIV/AIDS. They were very smart, because when I asked them to partner up, a bunch of them made a “massage train” so they could give and receive a massage at the same time, thus getting two massages! The women were quite interested and enthusiastic, and it was so great to see them all working on all the new techniques!
For more photo's click here: