Noélia Castro

My name is Noélia and at the age of 16 I already had tried several drugs and had left my parents home several times to live with a boy that had used drugs for several years. I began to use drugs more and more, and soon, I was completely addicted.

After living with the boy for three years, we went separate ways. I did not want to accept any help from my parents. I thought that if I got a job I would be able to survive alone, but shortly afterwards, I was out of work and living in the street. I then devoted myself to trafficking and prostitution to maintain my addiction. This is how ten years of continuous degradation, hunger, cold, and much abuse passed.

At 25, I got seriously ill. I didn’t go to the doctor right away and ended up at the hospital almost dying; I and stayed there for four months. I had several surgeries to my intestines and severe pneumonia, so they put me in an induced coma. The doctors said that there was nothing more they could do and wanted to turn off the machines, but one of the doctors didn’t allow it. He still had hope and as long as we didn’t have to turn the machines off, the machines were staying on! (God was already protecting me, without me knowing!)

When I woke up from the coma, I, who always had thought I didn’t need anyone, couldn’t even do my personal hygiene alone.

Therefore, after 10 years, I returned to my parents’ home. I kept myself sober for some time, but that great void inside kept consuming me. The relapse was more than foreseeable. So I asked Patrícia Campôa for help. This girl was completely changed, and several times she tried to convince me to leave that life, to look at her example and to believe.

That’s how I enter the Teen Challenge rehab program. The first days were very difficult, but what bothered me the most was the fact that those people were giving me so much love and care without even knowing me. It was something I was not used to. They lived out the unconditional love of God and, over time, this love started breaking my heart and transforming me.

To accept that God loves me was the best decision I have ever made. I realized that I could trust this love, give into it and let it transform me from the inside out. One of my biggest struggles was not being able to forgive. But when I truly gave myself to God, I felt free! There are no words to express what it is like to be able to ask God to bless those who have done me so much wrong, and to feel bitterness and hatred disappear.

God has worked in so many areas of my life; he has helped me know what it’s like to be a family, what it’s like to be a woman, a housewife and a hard worker. The rehab time was a key factor to what I am today! I finished the program and I stayed working in the Institution’s laundry…when I entered the program, I didn’t even know how to iron a piece of clothing.

Like every woman, I dreamed of marrying and having children, despite thinking that it was impossible, after all the surgeries and complications I had.

But the miracles were not over yet. I ended up meeting a guy who had also done the Teen Challenge rehab program. He was an educated man and knew how to speak, so I thought he would never be interested in me. However, God thought the opposite. Eventually, he noticed me and the feelings were mutual and serious. We married on July 11, 2009.

Today we are a happy couple, live a normal life and have two children, and another of a previous marriage. We are alive, we have plans for the future and we are respected, not for what we are but for what God has done in us. Thank God for the day I met this great motherhood of hope called Teen Challenge, that introduced me to Jesus!