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Why I Became a Massage Therapist, Caregiver for the Aged, Less Privileged – Chioma Okwuosa



Ms Katie Chioma Okwuosa takes passion and pride in taking care of people, especially their minds and bodies but it’s her love for the ageing group that makes her services special.
Born and raised at Oraifite, Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra state, Okwuosa turned what other people could easily view as a family predicament into passion, helping her mother and father in their times of need.

In this exclusive interview, Chioma speaks on her life and work.

How would you introduce yourself to people?

I’m Chioma Okwuosa, an ordinary Anambra girl, from Oraifite in Ekwusigo local government area, with a heart of gold. By the grace of God, I am the chief executive officer, and CEO, of Princeps Global Services, a service company with a wide range of services encompassing professional massage therapy, caregiving, manicure, cleaning making and re-making living apartments etc. In all, I introduce myself as a passionate caregiver and a passionate professional body massage therapist.
As an authentic Anambra babe, I also do the legit hustle. I mean buying and selling stuff like furniture, clothing and beauty products online.
On a personal level, I’m a great cleaner and love cleanliness, cooking and other household chores.

Katie at her massage parlour.

What drove you into this therapy and caregiving services?

(Laughs) Love. I love. I love it so much.
I love seeing and making people happy in any way I can. I could have done so many other things because I am a multi-talented person. However, as I grew into adulthood, I found out that I had a different lifestyle from most people around me. What I liked appeared quite different from what they liked. I am, naturally, always eager to see the next person happy and if I see the less privileged ones, I feel so bad and just wish I could help with something to change their circumstances. But, most times, there’s very little I could do other than just be there and encourage them in my little way.

Then, after graduating from the university, years back, I couldn’t think of a more fulfilling career than offering my service to the most vulnerable people in society – the aged and less privileged.

Even though I studied the administrative course, as against the health science course in school, I decided to go into it because it’s my first love. I found this passion for caregiving before I gained admission but, then, I saw it as part of my divine call that I could actualise, with time. When I finished school, therefore, I decided to get professional training in caregiving to ensure that what I did meet global standards. That was how I enrolled at the Family Ark Mission, Lagos. When I completed my training, I returned to Anambra state as the happiest lady in the world. With the professional knowledge in massage therapy. I felt like I was floating in the sky and (laughing) I became a quasi-doctor.

The practical training and testimonial we had in school opened my eyes more and began to appreciate the importance of this kind of work in society. The urge, and desire to care for the aged grew in me and, in line with the saying that charity begins at home, as I returned home, I started practising my newly acquired skills and techniques with my dear parents. I emphasised those things I thought they should be doing by themselves, stressing that, after all, they’re not sick and should be helping themselves. I also began to deliberately listen to them, knowing that aged people put priority on being listened to. That’s the number one need for them. So, I dedicated myself to listening to my parents.

Can you let us into a little more about your parents and what you did to help them out?

My mum is a trader. She sells articles that need to be packaged in plastic bags. Being her personal business, she doesn’t disturb anyone to help her. Anytime I was around, however, I would join her to pack, arrange and deliver the materials. We often did them together as a team and I loved helping her in almost everything she did which turned out to be a source of much relief and happiness. My happiness in this, is that it provides me the opportunity to listen to and interact with her. Such close interaction is often lacking in our relationship with our parents, even between couples. We seldom have time to listen to our loved ones and, most times, they hide their emotional and even physical challenges until it becomes a deadly problem.

My father, on the other hand, usually gets sick because of an accident he had when he was much younger. However, because I was always there to offer him my professional caregiving services, he became better and that, indeed, contributed to my decision to study massage therapy. So, after two years, I returned to Lagos to study massage therapy at the Learning Edges Academy, Ikeja. I concentrated mostly on the massage that has to do with bones and joints which is Thai Massage Therapy.

I returned home and my father became my number one client. I started giving him massage therapy and he became better. From my parents, I added extended family members. I began to expand my services to the aged people around as more and more people turned up for my attention. It soon turned into an obsession such that anywhere I saw aged person – in the street, church, hospital, market etc – I sought their addresses and started visiting them to cater for them.

One thing I do is getting skills that enable me serve better as a caregiver.

Do you have other skills and, if yes, how do those help you serve better?

Sure, as I am talking to you now, apart from being a massage therapist, I am a cleaner, barber, manicurist and a great cook.
My desire is when I get to an aged person’s house, I listen to him or her. I offer him massage therapy, dress his hair, manicure and pedicure his hands and feet, clean him, and maybe also scrub and clean his home. Most of them live in a smelly house. Finally, I cook and feed them.

This is quite a wide range of services and our readers will be keen to know what cost this attracts.

Basically, we do not charge much for our training and massage therapy services.
Also, we can come to our clients’ comfort zones to deliver services if they cannot come to our parlour.

What is your typical routine when you visit them?

Firstly, I listen to them to understand their emotional state and how to help them. Then, if they don’t have food, I cook for them, play and pray with them. For those who don’t have children that send money for their upkeep, you have to give them some money to be able to get their needs. Of course, I offer them message too because they need it.

Katie in her official outfit with her kitbag.

The most exciting moments for the elderly is when they have someone listening to them, pampering them, eating with them, taking pictures and showing them funny things from their phones; something they are not used to. It makes them come alive again and desire to live longer.
You don’t expect them to request your attention. Sometimes they feel if they do, you see them as liabilities and that’s why they don’t open up sometimes.

Did you do this as a full-time or part-time job?

Actually, while I was doing these community and hospital volunteer services as part time, I was also working at an Nnewi-based media firm, Voice Viewpoint newspaper as the Operations Manager.
As head of the department, sometimes I sleep in the office to make sure we get the desired results as my boss resides in California, United States. He usually speaks with me during their daytime which is our night time due to time zone differences. Then, whenever my boss called at our night time and found out I was still in the office, he was glad that he had someone so committed in taking care of his business more than himself. My dedicated service to company endeared me to his beautiful wife and, till date, we still talk on phone and we are looking forward to meeting ourselves one day.
I am not praising myself but I can describe myself as a compassionate, caring person who is trustworthy, strategic in my focus, loyal and multitasking.
I cannot fail my job or people especially when it’s my responsibility to make sure they’re good.

I later left the company to work for Vintage newspaper, also in Nnewi as a journalist. I, later, joined the Awka-based Orient Daily newspaper as a marketer. These jobs enabled me to put food on the table, take care of my basic needs as well as deliver my services to people who need them. Since I left Orient Daily, massage therapy and caregiving services have become my career and job as well as engaging in buying and selling online.

As for buying and selling, I grew up with it. I’ve always been a salesperson.

What kind of fulfilment has to be a massage therapist brought into your life?

Being a massage therapist, and a passionate one at that, fills me with pride and gratitude to God.
It aids real solutions to humans around me. It made me start looking for health problems in the life of people so as to offer some solution, which is my service.
For instance, I’ve met a young man that had an accident that led to depression. I took up his case and asked him to allow me offer him massage free just to aid his healing. He accepted. From giving massage, I ministered spiritual healing by connecting him with God, later counselling him on how to recover from depression. Remember, this was in conjunction with giving him the massage therapy in his joints.
In the end, he recovered. So, massage therapy gives me more light into caregiving job.

Since my knowledge and impact as a therapist has enabled me to touch many lives it is my greatest fulfillment.

How do you update your knowledge for better service delivery?

Apart from the initial training I received for a caregiver and massage therapy professional career, I usually visit hospitals, and health centres to update my knowledge.
I also study online because new ideas come up now and then. I have a lot of health course certificates already and I am not ever stopping learning.

Many young ladies prefer to venture into massage services often referred to as erotic. Do you also offer such services to clients?

No, I do not offer erotic massage therapy because I am a professional and eroticism is not a professional massage. It was actually meant for couples.
You know massage ought to be understood by everyone because it is a daily need. Human beings live in a stressful nature and drugs cannot kill stress; only massage therapy can deal with that. So couples can offer themselves massage in their private room and, of course, erotic massage is one of the types of massage couples can offer themselves.
If I’ll ever offer erotic, it’ll be to my own husband. I deal with health massage services only.

What are the key challenges you have faced while delivering your service?

Nigerians are ignorant of massage therapy services. We only manage in this job here and that’s why we have to offer free massage sometimes. Many people don’t believe that massage therapy can take care of their health problems. The fact that I offer only health massage services and not erotic massage also makes us not very popular in the market. The irony is that we are actually the people saving lives.

Another challenge is that because our service warrants being with a client, most times, alone and he or she half-dressed, there’s also the risk of being sexually harassed so we do not offer our services to just anyone.
I am always security conscious which compels me and every potential client to seek and get answers to my preliminary questions at first contact. That is to test the client’s self-control abilities and enable me to assess my safety and the security need of the required service. Through the replies to my questions then I’ll understand your self-control abilities.
Due to this principle, I have retained fewer clients but one good thing is that those who go through my therapy always come back to testify.

Some of my colleagues in America don’t get clients to request unprofessional massage therapy and if one out of a thousand does, he or she can be sanctioned by the government just for asking for a massage like erotic. If that applies here, I’ll be very happy.

There are so many misconceptions about massage therapy. Can you address some of them?

Oftentimes, when I tell people that I’m a massage therapist, the first thing that comes to their mind is sexual activity. That’s one great misconception people have about massage. You see many married men requesting a sexual massage from a professional massage therapist and he would tell you it’s normal or he thought it’s part of it because he has had it that way so so times. Well, massage is not for sexual gratification but an important therapeutic exercise for health. Both should not be taken as the same.

Massage therapy is a professional health service, not a social service. It’s for healing not for pleasure. It’s for the sick, not for sex-seeking people. There are the right places to get every service.

I’ve had an opportunity to interview someone that provides sexual satisfaction (erotic) in this job and she told me it’s the easiest service. She said she starts from the head, then straight down to the genitals and she’s done. This is unlike mine which offers three types of massages in one session.
Incidentally, those patronising erotic massage, or whatever they call it, do not understand that they have not received the professional service of this job once.
Anyone I have ever given massage therapy must confirm they’ve never experienced it in their lives.

What’s your lifetime goal?

To be a caregiver that touched many lives. I’ll like my caregiving company to keep serving people, even after I’m gone. I’ll like to train and mentor more young people in caregiving services. I’ll also like to set up a school that can train people in massage therapy and caregiving services. People need to understand that caring is a great service to mankind. Our people also need to learn to plan for their old age and the young ones to cater for the aged. The young ones must also understand that their aged parents want to be listened to. It is also my desire to have some capable hands that can partner with me to help much less privileged in our society.

Do you think you are qualified to provide this kind of service outside Nigeria?

Sure! I’ll say that I am more qualified than everyone I’ve seen or heard of.
Why? Because one trait I have is that I am ever learning. I love updating my knowledge irrespective of where the knowledge is coming from. Even if you’re a baby but have what I need, I take the information immediately.

Some people are full of arrogance and wouldn’t want to learn.
I am also a lover. I love it so much. I have a charitable heart. I love my job and I love to serve. I have done many volunteer services because I love serving people to make them happier so anywhere I see myself, I’ll always serve.
Moreso, I learn from the world’s standard training schools. All the health companies I have gotten training from are world recognised. You know there’s a difference between someone that has a passion for his job and someone that works for a salary. I work as a caregiver and professional body massage therapist because I love my job extremely. I keep adding more skills that will enable me to take care of whole families. I can take care of the big family that has a grandma, parents and little kids. I can take care of kids alone without any helper and I can take care of aged parents without any extra hands.
I can serve and help them do almost everything, even including persons who have the challenge of using the toilet by themselves. So, I am very very qualified to compete worldwide.

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