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A unique African experience in hope and healing

Located in the majestic mountainous splendor of the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, Rhapsody Retreat is a very private and exclusive oasis of hope and healing for people who suffer from primary disorders such as addiction, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and the many other disorders human beings fall prey to along their journey in life. We offer a unique one on one experience for our clients.

The uniqueness of Rhapsody Retreat is that it is one of the first true recovery centres in Africa. We use a non-clinical model with a holistic approach to mental sobriety, physical sobriety, emotional sobriety and spiritual sobriety. Through this approach we offer recovery and life-skill services.

Our 90 day program is recovery specific which brings about a radical change on how our clients experience themselves on an interior level and how they view the world in that 90 day time period.

We teach clients the connection between food, nutrition and exercise.We work our clients through the 12 Steps, on being answerable and responsible, and how this all ties in with not only staying sober, but living a productive and abundant life.

Our clients will be held accountable for all their decisions until the day they leave our facility. Consequences for their behaviour will be dealt out through their Step work, and they will come to grasp the concept that their problems are of their own making.

All the work done with our clients is experience orientated rather than educational. Through this our clients develop inner self-worth and inner integrity whilst being held accountable for developing the disciplines of life-skills. This has a tremendous impact on how they experience themselves and their outer world.The more comfortable an addict is in their own skin, the less chance of them returning to their addiction.

We motivate our clients to experience the concept that life is not about what you are doing in the moment, but rather enjoying what you are doing and having fun doing it. This is all about living a life worth living free of alcohol and drugs.

Rhapsody – The Story

I guess you could say this story begins way back in 2002 when my family and close friends had travelled up to the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe to bid farewell to my brother who was leaving the country to live in France.  Over the course of that weekend, I remember stopping to look out over a particularly beautiful view and turning to my dear friend Rudi saying, ‘One day I want to live here.’  Fast forward fifteen years, a broken marriage and descent into the hell of addiction and alcoholism, I was pretty broken.  I had lost everything, including my sanity and was facing the very real possibility of being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. My dreams were shattered.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to meet the right people, people who had worked the twelve steps of recovery and were willing to show me the way. One of these was Paul who had set up a retreat in the majestic Matobo hills just outside Bulawayo. He invited me to join him there in order to consolidate my own recovery, so that I in turn might pass the message on to those still suffering.  I was there for seven months, during which time my life completely turned around. With this came the realization that, in order to stay well. I had to continue this work. Through circumstances beyond our control, the farm in the Matopos where we were based had been sold, so we needed to find a new location.

Meanwhile I had been working through my amends, one of which was to an old and dear friend from whom I had extorted a substantial amount of money. I was now in a position to start paying her back, due largely to an inheritance I had received from my late parents. They had left me a rambling old house in Bulawayo that I had managed to sell.   Part of this money I had allocated to my amends, and the balance to finding another venue for our retreat.  To this end, I had been looking online and had identified a property in the Nyanga mountains that looked promising. I decided to combine my trip to Harare to make my amends with a visit to Nyanga to view the property.

I arrived in Harare on a cold and rainy day and drove straight to the Estate Agents to collect the keys.  To my dismay, there turned out to be so many hidden problems that had not been made clear in the advert, no running water, no electricity and substantial work to be done in order to complete the building. Plus the price had gone up!  It was a non-starter and I left their office feeling utterly downcast and depressed. My trip felt like a waste of time, but I had already arranged to meet with Sylvia, so, with my heart in my mouth, I made my way to her flat.

Amends can feel very daunting, and this was a huge one.  I had completely abused and betrayed our friendship, to say nothing of the financial side of things. All I could do was speak from my heart, no excuses, no justifying. She listened, and graciously accepted my repayment terms, forgiving me and thus allowing me to begin to forgive myself. Afterwards we had a cup of tea and I told her about my futile search for a place in the mountains where we could offer hope and healing to others like me.  Out of the blue she said to me, “I have a cottage in Nyanga and I want to sell it, why don’t you go and have a look tomorrow?’. When I asked incredulously if she’d be willing to sell to me after all we’d been through, she said simply, ‘Yes, it has a certain kind of symmetry.’

So it was that Paul and I found ourselves on the road the following day on a different kind of journey altogether. As we rounded a long winding bend, climbing up out of the valley, the huge granite mass of Susurumba, the bald-headed mountain, loomed up in front of us. ‘This is it, this is it!’ I yelled excitedly, and we turned into the driveway of Rhapsody cottage. We were both struck dumb. No words could do justice to the view that stretched before us in all directions. The peace and tranquility were palpable. Here people could be well, all could be well. Two beautiful cottages set on five acres of natural forest, with a borehole, electricity, and only three hours from Harare.

My purchase of Rhapsody has always been conditional. I made a promise to the God of my understanding that I would devote the rest of my life to helping others recover, in the same way that I was brought back from the gates of hell. That this came on the back end of an amends is particularly significant in light of the promises that follow step 9 in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity, and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

It has been a long journey with many twists and turns since that day back in 2002 when I looked longingly over the landscape and vowed that one day I would live here.  And yet here I am, older, wiser, and so very humbled by the mighty vision of my Creator. May I do Thy Will always.

Philippa Knight

September 2019