One year ago, Joyce Herrera, an OFW and a single mother with three children, was casting about for a viable way to earn enough to support her family. After 10 years of contract work as a caregiver in Macau, Hong Kong, Kuwait, and Abu Dhabi, her life circumstances prompted her to seek a career in the Philippines. Today, she is in the process of building a two-story house of her own. “For good na po ako dito,” shares Joecye, who likens her previous earnings abroad to how much she's getting now through Zennya, a mobile health and wellness app.
Zennya connects trained health professionals including medical massage therapists, nurses, medical technicians, and doctors with clients for health-related issues. It offers a variety of services, including massage modalities geared toward relieving stress, addressing chronic muscle pain, and alleviating joint problems, among other issues. Other wellness services include hand and foot care through manicures, pedicures, and scrubs. Further medical services that are launching this month include home vaccinations and blood tests.
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Zennya can be regarded as an innovative platform empowering women to uplift their lives through honest and hard work. In a sense, Zennya therapists are not employees, rather they are part of a network of independent business partners of the app. “From my years of experience living in the Philippines, what I saw as an unutilized resource was people,” explains Davide Foote, CEO of Zennya. “We use technology to be more efficient about scaling people up and putting them to work, specifically to solve healthcare issues.”
Because the massages Zennya offers are therapeutic in nature, all the therapists undergo specific training which grounds the practice with a scientific basis. The regularly scheduled training modules imparts a deeper understanding of the therapeutic benefits of massage which allows the therapists to do their job more effectively and efficiently. “Yung mga masahe namin may basehan sa medical, hindi lang siya puro hagod lang. Ang training dito is theoretical. Pag-aaralan mo yung human anatomy and then kung saan ang mga pressure points, meron din kaming pathology (Our massages have medical basis, it’s not just about kneading. Our training is theoretical. We study human anatomy, the location of pressure points, we also study pathology),” shares Joeyce, “Maganda po yun dahil may matutunan ka talaga. May panibagong kang skills na habang buhay mong madadala. (It’s great because we really learn something. We gain new skills that we can use for a lifetime)”
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The benefits of this particular business model resonated with Joeyce. While seeking her fortunes abroad was a necessary sacrifice, ultimately, she realized that her presence in her children’s lives was far more important than any amount that she can earn overseas. “Yung panganay kong anak, sinabi niya sa akin: ‘Ma, wala na kaming tatay. Wala pa rin ba kaming nanay?’ Bilang nanay, masakit yon. Na-realize ko na kailangan ko na talaga mag-for good kasi lumalaki sila na wala ako (My eldest child told me “Ma, our father is not here. Is it also necessary that our mother is gone as well?’ That’s when I realized that I need to move back to the Philippines for good because my children were growing up without me),” recalls Joeyce. “Yun po yung isang mga advantages para sa akin: mas madali kong mabalanse and trabaho at pamilya. Dito kasi, anytime after ng duty mo, pwede kang umuwi. Kapag may activity mga anak ko sa school, nag-a-apply lang ako sa cellphone ko ng vacation. Hindi po katulad ng kung sa abroad. Kapag may emergency, di ka makakauwi agad. Kailangan ko pa ng plane ticket, papaalam ka pa. Ang daming proseso. (For me, that is one of the advantages of Zennya: being able to better balance work and my family. Here, anytime after your shift is over, you can go home. If your child has an activity at school, I simply have to log that day on my cellphone as a vacation. It’s not like working overseas. If there’s an emergency while you are there, you can’t go home right away. You need to buy a plane ticket, you need to ask permission. There are a lot of processes involved)”
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Currently, Joeyce is earning approximately PHP 60,000 a month. She manages her own schedule, booking clients between 1 PM to 1 AM during weekdays, extending to 2 AM during weekends. She averages five clients per day, with a weekly haul of roughly PHP 14,000 to PHP 15,000, including tips.
Apart from the house she is presently constructing, she is also looking into saving for a family vacation to Hong Kong. “Plano ko talaga kung magbabakasyon, gusto ko kasama ko pamilya ko. Matagal na akong nahiwalay sa kanila, almost 10 years, so gusto ko naman na magkaroon kami ng bonding (My plan for a vacation is to share it with my family. I spent almost 10 years away from them so I want to experience some bonding moments with them),” shares Joeyce. “Punta kaming Disneyland kahit napasok ako na kasi gusto kong ma-experience rin nila. (We’ll go to Disneyland, even though I’ve been there already. I want them to experience it with me.)”
“Pangarap ko rin mapatapos ko mga anak ko (My dream is for my children to finish school),” Joeyce muses more, showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to dreaming, hoping, and striving for her goals. “Kung ano man ang dadarating sa akin na susunod kabanata, kung kaya ko naman, why not? Acceptance lang yun eh. Once dumating yung opportunity, grab lang yan. Kasi once pinabayaan mo, mawawala na sya. (Whatever is in store for me in the next chapters, if I can handle it, why not? It’s all about acceptance. Once the opportunity arises, you need to grab it. If you let it pass you, you’ll lose it.)”
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Photographs by the author | Banner image courtesy of Unsplash