Proper care gave Nindi a new chance in life

Lack of competence and knowledge about mental illness is a common reason why many seek explanations in curses and put their hope in unscientific cures and treatments. This is something that Nindi Mtumwa Shafii in Tanzania experienced when she ended up in a deep depression.

Nindi looks out the window of her preschool, she is wearing a blue patterned dress and a white hat
Nindi Mtumwa Shafii

Immediately after Nindi gave birth to her second child, she learned that her husband had met another woman. The man's betrayal made Nindi feel very bad. 

-Then I decided to move home to my own parents again. But they thought I had been bewitched, says Nindi.

Her family took her to a local witch doctor who explained that the cause of her mental illness was that the man's new wife had placed a curse on her. But the treatments and medications she received did not help.

When she felt the worst, the family did not understand that she was in need of care and when the attempts to break the alleged curse did not help, they took drastic action.

 -The family was frightened by my screams. Then I was locked in an empty room where I could sit to myself. In there, I thought it would have been better if I had been dead. My mother was ashamed of me and so was my older child because I had also left my husband.

Proper care gave Nindi her life back

Nindi squats in a green tunic and plays with the children at her preschool
Nindi today runs her own preschool

Eventually, however, Nindi was taken to a hospital, where she was admitted. The care staff said that her problems had probably been triggered by the severe stress she was exposed to. At the hospital, she also received an antipsychotic medication, which she will have to take for life.

When Nindi was discharged, the care staff also advised her to contact TUSPO (Tanzania Users and Survivors of Psychiatry Organization). It was a council that came to be of crucial importance.

 -If I had not received the support I have received through TUSPO, it is not impossible that I would have been dead now, Nindi says.

Thanks to the organization, Nindi was able to attend a childcare training and today runs her own preschool.

Together with TUSPO, Nindi celebrates World Mental Health Day 2021

Since she herself received help, Nindi has been involved in TUSPO and helping others with mental illness to seek and get the right help. Today she is chairman of the board of TUSPO's women's section and vice chairman of TUSPO's board.

The organization recently celebrated World Mental Health Day, which falls on October 10 every year to raise awareness about mental health issues around the world. 

TUSPO celebrated the day in the Iringa district of Tanzania, with singing, dancing and more speakers, to draw attention to the importance of breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness and the opportunities to get the right help.

Nindi Shafii stands and holds up one hand, she is wearing an orange dress
Nindi Shafii is vice chairman of TUSPO's board and chairman of their women's section
TUSPO's women's section performs a song they prepared for the celebration
Dr. Petro Lusasi stands up and holds a microphone, he is wearing beige pants and matching sweater around him several people are sitting and listening
Dr. Petro Lusasi is a psychiatrist and participated to spread knowledge and mental health

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