Joanita Figueiredo: From a nurse to a job provider to the blind

Pursuing your passion gives a different kind of satisfaction in life and fifty-six-year-old Joanita Figueiredo who runs Metta Foot Reflexology Centre in Bandra, Mumbai is a perfect example. Her centre is unique because Joanita has employed therapists who are visually impaired. “About ten years ago I came across these people at the National Association for the Blind in Mumbai. They conveyed to me that nobody was willing to employ them because they couldn’t see. That’s when my inner voice told me that I should do something for them,” said Joanita. She currently employs 15 people, three of whom are women. In the eighties, she was a nurse at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai and during those days she developed a keen interest in curative medicines, preventive medicines, nature therapy and yoga. In 2008, she had learnt foot reflexology in Thailand. In the initial days, she used to charge just 100 bucks for an hourly foot massage and still people were reluctant to come to her as they believed the blind may not do justice to the service they are paying for. “Today we charge `400 on weekdays and `500 on weekends for an hourly massage session. We also take up special projects where we go and provide our service in offices, weddings and other events,” said Joanita. When asked about how she feels about emerging as a job creator, she said, “I feel wonderful. I might just be a drop in the ocean. But ultimately, I am also making a difference in the lives of people.”