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Healing Touch Without Sight

How Mariane’s ‘Aha’ moment led to the creation of jobs for many visually impaired women

In 2014, Mariane Akwenye founded Nomad African Spa with the obvious goal of providing a restorative environment for clients, but she went much further and also created a powerful healing environment for her staff. The combination is authentically African, and award-winning, with Nomad African Spa winning Africa’s Best Day Spa 2015 and 2016 from the World Spa Awards. 

In describing the philosophy behind the spa, Mariane explains, “Nomad Spa Academy’s objective is to give skills to those who come from a disadvantaged background. It was during one of these training sessions when our head therapist was asking the trainees to close their eyes and be in tune with their bodies when I had an ‘aha’ moment right then and there and I thought to myself, ‘What happens to the visually impaired ladies and would this not be the perfect career for them?’

“The entrepreneur in me took over and I researched to find similar programmes and training methods. Honestly, there is very little out there. I was compelled to do something, I took on this project not really knowing what I was getting into.”

The more she researched and got to know the plight of blind women, the more Mariane was compelled to act. 

“With our historic background, most of these girls are living in villages and they have been deemed a ‘burden’ to their families. For the families that want to help and improve the lives of the blind, they find that there are not so many options out there. I could have turned a blind eye (so to say) and continued with my ‘business as usual’, but there was a deeper force directing me to this.

“I am so proud of our first set of intakes. We have now successfully employed two of them. The most significant part, though, is the life transformation these ladies have undergone. Their confidence has improved, their dreams have been revived and they now have a sense of permission to LIVE a life of possibility.”

Mariane’s dreams don’t end with the first intake, adding, “Now that I’m in it, I want it to be a beacon of hope for the visually impaired not only in Namibia but on the continent, as there is really nothing similar in the wellness industry.”

Mariane believes that it is essential to know yourself when serving others, adding, “This sense of Ubuntu is what the essence of life is about. When you know yourself, you have no sense of jealousy or selfishness; it is pure freedom.”

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