For as long as he can remember, Masipula “Masi” Sithole has loved music. But it took on a new meaning in 2004, when he was diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder. That, coupled with his bipolar disorder, meant he was destined to spend a lot of time in hospitals. “Music was a saving grace for me when I started realizing I was going to be at the hospital quite a bit and some of those things were not going to get better,” said Masi.
Music remained a respite when Masi’s health took a turn for the worse in 2010. He lost his home and was forced to depend on the kindness of friends and relatives for a place to sleep. “It it was a tremendous challenge. A few friends were there, mom was there, family was there, but it was taking me a long time to heal and the helping hands started getting exhausted,” said Masi.
That season of homelessness came to an end when Masi found an apartment in Jubilee’s Euclid building. “When I finally got my own place, it was a tremendous relief,” he said.
With a stable home, Masi’s health improved and he found freedom to harness his unique gifts and talents to help the community. Recognizing the power of music therapy in his own life, Masi founded Rhythm for Recovery to assist at-risk communities in finding answers to life’s troubles through access to traditional arts, particularly the mbira from his native Zimbabwe and the kalimba from neighboring South Africa. “When I’m hanging out at the hospital, it’s a way I can contribute and recenter my life,” he said. Masi also shares some of these passions with youth at Jubilee’s Teen Renaissance Center.
With encouragement from his Jubilee community, especially Jubilee partner Reunion DC, Masi was also able to complete his Masters in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins last year.
“My life has been diverted in the hospital and with healthcare. But it’s just been amazing—like amazing grace, one of my favorite songs—to see community come around me in recent years,” said Masi. “Going forward, I am encouraged and excited to continue advocating for human rights and restorative justice, especially with Reunion.”