Thanh, age twenty-two, was born into a farming family like many of our therapists. Her father, age fifty, continues farming to this day but Thanh lost her mother to kidney failure when she was only eight years old.
Though Thanh made no mention of this, it may well be that the medication her mother took during pregnancy, which the doctors say was the cause for Thanh’s disfigurement and vision impairment, may also have contributed to her mother’s untimely death. Thanh is the middle child, sandwiched between her older sister, twenty-six and her younger brother who is twenty years old.
Thanh, the only person in her family who is visually impaired, was born with severe malformation to her facial structure. This, in turn, caused considerable vision impairment which only worsened over time. In school, though she was treated well by her classmates most of the time, there were some who truly taunted her.
In her early years in school Thanh found keeping up with her classwork to be quite difficult. With considerable assistance from one of her cousins, however, she managed to somehow keep up and began to adjust little by little, until as she progressed on to middle school she discovered a love of reading Vietnamese literature, sad novels, poetry, pre-war history and stories of the revolutionary wars. Thanh was, and is fortunate enough to be able to read books in print, albeit with considerable difficulty and only at extremely close distance. Concerned about her worsening eyesight, Thanh reluctantly quit school in her tenth year. Even so, she is an avid reader to this day. When not reading and not at work Thanh loves listening to Vietnamese pop, K-pop and Western pop music.
After leaving school, Thanh stayed at home with her father, occasionally helping with the cooking, especially when her father was throwing a party for friends or family. She stayed at home until coming to Omamori, eighteen months ago. When she first came to us her disfigurement was so severe that it was impossible for her to keep her glasses on straight enough to even read for more than a few minutes without once again adjusting them. Furthermore, her appearance was such that she, herself, and our staff as well, felt that many of our customers might be either frightened of her appearance or feel so uncomfortable that this would detract from the effectiveness of the therapy itself. It was decided that she, and all staff, would begin wearing masks, much as a dentist, doctor or nurse might when treating patients. In a sense, therefore, the creative solution to helping Thanh fit in at Omamori became the key to establishing an even more professional at Omamori. It was a healthier solution for all staff and clientele as well as a prescient measure far predating the mask requirements for all necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since coming to Omamori Thanh has become well known and well-liked by all. She is especially loved and respected for her empathy and kindness toward others and for her work ethic. Two short stories help illustrate this point. When Thanh first came to Omamori she began her training even as management staff and her colleagues began thinking about a solution satisfactory to everyone that would make it possible for her to treat clients while maintaining the comfort of all. However, it wasn’t long after the “mask solution” had been decided upon that Thanh and her family made the difficult decision for her to undergo a difficult and painful transformative plastic surgery, to at least partially repair the disfiguration. This entailed staying at home with her family for three months of recuperation following the surgery. Her teachers and colleagues assumed, therefore, that when she came back to Omamori she would have to essentially begin her training all over again, especially since she had had very little natural strength in her hands to start with. It was to everyone’s great surprise, then, that when she came back to work she was actually stronger than ever! Determined not to let her teachers and colleagues down she had actually been doing the strength training and exercises she had been taught every day during her absence. She maintains that she feels that she owes so much to Nham and her other teachers, and to her colleagues that she has a responsibility to repay these kindnesses and all of the support she has received.
It wasn’t long after her return that she met Nhi, a single mother, recently divorced, who had come to us in search of advanced training and a better work opportunity. Sensing that Nhi was in a difficult financial situation, Thanh went shopping and bought new clothing for both of her children. Nhi explains that never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined that a co-worker, visually impaired herself, and whom she had barely met would extend her such kindness. It is for these reasons and more that Thanh is loved by her coworkers and any who get to know her. At Omamori, it doesn't hurt at all that she’s a good cook, too!
Thanh seems to be always on the verge of breaking into a big smile. She attributes her happiness to the nurturing kindness of others at Omamori, to the opportunity for learning and for work and to the support of all by whom she is surrounded. We think, however, that it is actually her own empathy for others, her acceptance of her own self, with both her limitations and talents and her readiness to give credit to others rather than envying others that make her a happy person.
Presently, Thanh has mastered the Omamori massage, Foot massage and Swedish massage techniques. She truly loves giving massages to people, knowing that she is enabling her clients to relax and feel comfortable and that she may be personally involved in their healing. Her life’s dream is a very simple one. She wishes to become the best massage therapist she can possibly be so that she can help people from all over the world.
Meanwhile, anyone who has the pleasure of spending time with her outside of work will soon discover her flair for fashion, her terrific sense of aesthetics, her warmth and her magnetic smile. One would be forgiven for thinking that her true dream is to become the world’s Beauty Queen!