My story | Young sangoma shares how she uses traditional herbs as medicine to treat nyaope addicts in her community

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Nathanyana rehabilitation centre founder Nathalia Masubelele.
Nathanyana rehabilitation centre founder Nathalia Masubelele.

It's something that is quite new - a traditional rehabilitation centre. This young sangoma believes that using her spiritual gift to help the youth in her community that struggle with nyaope addiction will make people see African spirituality in a positive light.

Nathalia Masubelele (20) is a young woman from Mokopane, Limpompo. Her spiritual calling began troubling her during her last year in high school and she went and got initiated as a sangoma.

In 2019 Nathalia saw the need of a traditional rehabilitation centre in her community as she witnessed her peers and people she went to school with struggle with drug addiction.

She then founded an NPO rehab, Nathanyana Rehabilitation Century to help young people who are battling with addiction by treating them in her mother’s backroom using traditional herbs and medicine.

“I grew up seeing people I looked up to destroy their lives by using drugs. I realised that I could use my knowledge and gift of traditional healing to help them beat their addiction through herbs that will fight the drugs in their systems. We don’t have limits on age groups or gender, we take in everyone who wants to build a better life for themselves.”

She says that she has found that the reason behind some of the youth deciding to do drugs was their struggle to find employment, lack of support from family members and some of them battled with their own spiritual callings.

“We not only help our patients with drugs but help them spiritually and emotionally. I work from home currently because I have not found a place where I will accommodate them. I have approached the department of health to ask for funding but there hasn’t been any lead hence I work from my family backroom.”

Nathalia says that the period a patient stays at the rehabilitation centre is dependent on the kind of drug that they are using. Patients who struggle with nyaope addiction stay for up to three months and those who struggle with crystal meth are there for two months.

“Drugs are destroying the lives of our brothers and sisters. Most of our patients are teenagers and they sent to us by their parents. People who come to the rehab have great testimonies of how they beat their drug addiction and leave looking healthier with the intention of never going back to the life of drugs.”

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She says that some of her patients are fortunate to find jobs while some of them go back to school after leaving the traditional rehab. Some may try to  quit or give up but she always encourages them to stay as it will benefit them later.

Nathanyana rehabilitation century
One of her patients who struggled with drug addiction for 10 years.

Although traditional healers have been looked down upon compared to western medicine, Nathalia believes that traditional medicine shouldn’t be seen as a taboo as it can be used for the greater good of communities and people.

“If you are a healer, it is your duty to uplift other people, my gift made me realise that a lot of people are in need of my help. There’s beauty in African spirituality. I would like to change the perspective that our practises are bad and that we practise witchcraft.”

She says that the traditional medicine can help people of other races as they are natural herbs that can be used for to tackle different issues.  

She tells us how her journey into traditional medicine. 

“It hasn’t been an easy journey, but I try by all means to be strong, I have encountered a lot of challenges in my work where people felt that they can take advantage of me because I am young, but I keep on pushing forward. Whenever I have a difficulty with a patient, I try to understand that they are recovering addicts.”

Her parents and family are proud that she is using her gift to heal the youth in such a unique way.

“I would like to grow my rehabilitation centre and have bigger accommodation that can cater to large crowds. I want it to be a nationwide centre and I want people to know that traditional rehabs are just as good as the western. I want to help a lot of people.”

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