An Olds massage therapist is taking her healing hands to orphanages in Vietnam next month.
Joanne Allen, 37, was one of 20 therapeutic massage practitioners chosen from 1,000 applicants across Canada and the U.S. for the volunteer effort to teach orphanage workers how to use massage techniques to comfort children.
Allen has already reached her $4,300 fundraising target for the Liddlekidz Foundation, which is organizing the 18-day trip that will take Allen to seven orphanages across the country.
Her involvement in the project came by chance as she was looking up massage therapy courses and saw the listing for the Liddlekidz outreach program.
“I have a bit of a travel bug in me so I signed up for their newsletters and I got sent an email that they were looking for volunteers,” said Allen, who works at Lentz Chiropractic in Olds.
After a phone interview with Liddlekidz founder Tina Allen, she was thrilled to find she was chosen, the only one from Alberta who will be going. Allen said her previous experience teaching pre-school worked in her favour.
Allen said what she really likes about the program is that Liddlekidz has created a curriculum and designed booklets translated into Vietnamese that will be left with the staff.
“So we’ll actually be teaching the staff different things they can do with the children and keep on doing with the children. So it’s more sustainable that way.”
The mission of the foundation is to provide nurturing touch for children in need, such as those living in the Vietnamese orphanages
“They have food, they have clothing and they have shelter in the orphanages. But lots of times they are lacking in just basic human contact.
“One of the main goals is to spread the word that nurturing touch is something that these children need in order to thrive as well.”
The massage therapists will be working with children who have been orphaned or abandoned and many have missing limbs or other injuries from land mines or have congenital disabilities.
Allen expects the trip will be an emotional experience.
“I expect there to be a lot of tears,” she said. “It’s probably going to be fairly overwhelming, but it’s also going to be great at the same time.”
Those who would like to donate to the foundation can go to www.liddlekidz.com