by Sr. Bernadette Fadegnon MMM
It all began with a thought, listening to how people expressed the way they felt. They were tense and anxious, because of the excess stress generated by the pandemic.
This touched me deeply because for me as a Medical Missionary of Mary. Our Congregation has a Charism directed towards healing. It calls me to do anything that I could to relieve some of the suffering of people in this time of need. I observed and reflected on how I could help and I now offer my learnings, giftedness and passion to help those in need of healing.
Massage is an alternative way to release many from severe stress after they have been accompanied by a psychologist, I thought.
The community supported my initiative. A letter was drawn up for announcing in our local parish. The letter was addressed to the parish priest and offered free massage sessions for adults over 18 years of age as a way to contribute to their physical, emotional and psychological health and reduce the stress caused by the pandemic. The venue for this therapy was the Parish Pastoral Centre (Casa da Juventude). It was also emphasized in the announcement that all Covid-19 protocols would be observed as far as possible. Each beneficiary was to come with their own towel or bedsheet. Any person having symptoms of Covid-19 or influenza was not to sign up for the massage therapy.
One of our former staff Ana is very active in the parish and I could remember her joy
and excitement when I shared the idea with her. She advised me that if this is announced in the Church, everybody will want to come for it. It would be better to let some of them that know the people who are in real need get in touch with them and put them in the roster according to the times and days we have drawn up.
According to the plan, it was to be a three-week programme, two weeks in December and one week in January. Within a couple of days, the list was filled up for two weeks in December; Monday to Saturday two massages daily in the morning period.
The news went round the neighbourhood as those who have benefited went on sharing about the good news to the extent that when we opened the list for the remaining one week of January, the roster was filled up in a day.
It is like the attitude of Andrew in the Bible to whom John the Baptist pointed out Jesus. After Andrew had had a positive influence, he went to call his brother Simon Peter to come and experience the same. Many of the women, after receiving the massage, tell their neighbour who is in need of such therapy. Some will ask right there after the session, if there is a space for them to put down the name of someone they know who needs massage therapy. Some will tell the neighbour or relative to come and inquire if there is still space.
A total number of 34 women benefited from this action during these two months.
This has given me a sense that I could offer something very good and important to people in time of need without much financial resources, except my own good energy and passion for what I know best to do. This initiative has shown me that massage therapy is one of the real needs as a response to the effect of Covid in our world. As we continue to pray for the end of Covid, we ask the Lord to grant us the wisdom to diligently continue to respond in a way that prevents the spread of this unwanted guest which has come to stay with us.