By Durratul Ain Ahmad Fuad
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 -- The Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) has opened its latest and third Shoppe outlet, a reflexology and massage centre, at the REX KL here on last Jan 11.
Its vice-president Dr S. Hadi Abdullah said the reflexology and massage centre was introduced to create employment opportunities for the visually impaired individuals in the country, with three more outlets planned to be opened this year.
“With the third MAB Shoppe is now operating, we are optimistic in providing employment opportunities as the move will also enable the visually impaired people with massage skills to be independent.
“Majority of employees at the MAB Shoppe are former trainees of MAB's Gurney Training Centre (vocational school for the blind community). Between 15 and 20 massuers and masseuses graduated every year from our training centre after completing the 18 months programme,” he told Bernama.
He added MAB is not a member-based organisation, instead it serves all blind and visually impaired people registered under the Social Welfare Department and a total of 47,800 persons have registered as of August last year.
Apart from getting reflexology and massage services at the MAB Shoppe outlets, customers can also purchase wooden and rattan handicrafts produced by the visually impaired people.
Meanwhile, MAB general manager George Thomas said the first MAB Shoppe outlet at the Mid Valley, opened in 2002, has recorded 220 to 270 customers monthly while 80 to 100 customers frequented the outlet in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang, monthly since it started operations in 2018.
“There are four personnel to provide the services at the outlet in the Mid valley, while two in Bukit Tinggi and three in REX KL,” he said.
George also said that MAB targeted to open more outlets in malls in Kuala Lumpur and other major towns including Johor Bahru as well as in other states.
Commenting on the wooden and rattan handicrafts produced by the visually impaired people, he said rattan weaving is synonym with the blind community way back in the 50’s until the 80’s.
“With the current trend of going back to nature, MAB wants to re-emphasis on rattan and wooden products by our trainees who received training at our centre in Temerloh, Pahang. We have a wide range of products and we also plan to go online early next year,” he said.
Among the products available at the outlets are fruit, flower and laundry baskets, key chains, frames and wooden stools.
Meanwhile, MAB Business Development Committee chairman Charles Chew said all the masseurs and masseuses were trained in the best form of reflexology and massage skills by special tutors, including from China, India and Sweden.
He said MAB was also planning to upgrade the skills to obtain accredited certification and to offer add-on services that qualify and comply to that of the spa and wellness level.
“This may take a while before we roll out the end products. The knowledge of our blind employees can be enhanced to that of spa and wellness, for example, to provide health analysis that will benefit the clients. This is the aim of our experts and trainers, so that our employees will be more competitive in the market,” he said.