Vanessa Senecal has been a Registered Massage Therapist for over five years now. She just recently joined Broadway Wellness after an exciting volunteering adventure abroad. Aside from doing RMT Vancouver work last spring, she was also volunteering locally with an organization called Shanti Uganda, so it seemed like an obvious choice to see if Shanti needed any volunteers in Uganda. The mission of the Shanti Uganda Society: to improve the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of communities impacted by war, poverty and HIV/AIDS in Uganda.
As a doula, and pre/post-natal massage therapist, Vanessa was hopeful she would have some skills to share at the Maternity and Learning Centre in Uganda. As it turned out, the time period she was hoping to volunteer coincided perfectly with the official opening of the Birth house. It turned out to be an excellent time for the volunteer coordinator in Uganda to put Vanessa to work getting things running smoothly.
While in Uganda, Vanessa kept a blog. Here are some massage therapy related excerpts from Vanessa’s blog:
October 10, 2010
“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 ultimately my doula training would be of most use. So I was pleasantly surprised to find 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 reviewed some techniques that could be particularly useful during labour. …In addition I gave each one of the midwives a massage therapy session over the course of the week. 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 sight to behold”!
October 27, 2010
“One cool thing about volunteering here is that I’m being put in the position of pushing myself to do new things. …Like teaching, which I don’t generally consider to be part of my skill set. But a big part of the experience of being here is sharing knowledge. The Shanti staff teach me Luganda and about Ugandan culture; I’m learning more about midwifery and birthing babies. In return I lead yoga classes, give massages, teach massage techniques for labour, and share my doula insights”.
November 11, 2010
“Today was the baby massage workshop at the centre. There’s nothing much better than the delightful mayhem of being in the presence of a dozen babies and their mothers. I was quite pleased by the turnout, as I was unsure of what Ugandan women would think of this baby massage thing. I shouldn’t have worried. They loved it! The mothers were very attentive, the babies were fairly cooperative with a few crying and feeding breaks and it was overall quite a success”.
“It has been six months already since I returned from Uganda. Sometimes it seems like I just left, and sometimes it seems like a distant memory. Now, with the start of the summer festival season and the Shanti Uganda volunteer opportunities that come along with these festivals, I have been thinking of Shanti more. Thanks for letting me share a few stories from my time there”.
If you want to learn more about Shanti Uganda, please visit http://www.shantiuganda.org/
If you’re interested in pre or post natal massage for yourself, or infant massage for your little one, you can contact Vanessa at Broadway Wellness by calling 604-732-5222 or emailing the centre at firstname.lastname@example.org.