6.7 min readBy Published On: February 24th, 2015Categories: Arts and Entertainment, Lifestyle0 Comments

Go to Italy!

Christian Culajay has a life changing opportunity before him but he needs your help!  Recently named the 6th Roberto Valdez Scholarship Recipient, Christian has the opportunity to visit Italy as part of yearly retreat with Medicine Whee Productions.

Medicine Wheel’s Michael Dowling says the scholarship helps give a young person the opportunity to step out of a life of distractions to take a journey of awareness.  “One of the things that amazes me about the young people who come to Medicine Wheel is their resiliency. I am humbled on a regular basis by the power of their stories and by the strength of their character to overcome obstacles that would daunt most of us. Christian is an amazing young man who has found his authentic voice through music, when everything else in his life seemed to be holding him down. I am in awe of him when I read his story.”

Medicine Wheel is looking for 350 people to donate just $10 each to send Christian to Italy. You can make a donation here: http://mwponline.org/wordpress/donate/  If you need more convincing, here is a letter from Christian:

My name is Christian Culajay; and I am 18 years old. I am undeniably excited for this opportunity to go to Italy.  I live with my mother, a younger sister, and two younger brothers. Moving to South Boston in 2010 has been a journey that has offered me life-changing experiences. I had to get accustomed to; new environment, new friends, and get a job. My first job was at the Boy and Girls Club.  It was amazing to get to work with kids. Being a role model along with having fun and helping was an amazing opportunity. My second job at Medicine Wheel Changed my life.  This place was the shift in my life that has brought out the best in me. I worked there for a year and no other job has compared. We worked on important community projects that impacted the community and us. I’ve gained my voice back, all because of Medicine Wheel and their wonderful staff.   They are my second family at this point. They made me realize that being open is a healing process, and can make you better. Before we moved to South Boston my mother had been the victim of an abusive relationship and ended up being hospitalized in the middle of the night. My siblings and I were sent to neighbors. I felt helpless and useless and blamed myself.

The following weeks were filled with investigations, questions, and counseling! I was diagnosed with depression. Medication was recommended but I resisted. I didn’t feel like anything would help me. I couldn’t smile for a few months. But then I found something absolutely life changing. I found music, more specifically guitar. I picked it up and immediately fell in love with it. It brought my first smile to my face. I started a natural healing process after that by playing guitar everyday. I was able to put my feelings into sound. A sort of transcendence of my soul, almost ecstasy, is the best I can explain it. I continued to play for years, I grew, but for some reason so did my depression. It started to affect my grades in school. I was flunking, then I didn’t care and I started skipping. I found some “friends” who introduced me to some illegal substances. At that point in time, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I would do it almost everyday.

Faking happiness by using it, but it was numbing the depression that was happening to me still. I started realizing that it was making me worse. Every time I came down from it I was sadder than usual. It just declined more and more, until the steep slope turned into a vertical line. I forced myself to stop cold turkey and found another addiction. A little friend of America called cigarettes. During this point in my life I became involved with a beautiful girl. It was like fireworks. Every moment was amazing, and I never wanted it to stop. We hung out almost every day.

After a few months she convinced me to stop smoking, and I did. I started realizing my depression was gnawing at me again. I tried to explain to her as best I could. But she couldn’t understand me very well because she was a very happy person. After 6 months I was at my worst with my depression. I was unmotivated, isolated, and clingy to the one I cared
about. After a little bit, she dumped me. When she began seeing someone else it put me over the edge. I convinced myself that I was going nowhere in life. That nobody wanted me or cared for me. I wrote a note saying my goodbyes. I then tried to take a ton of pills and left the house. Waiting for the result that I thought would relieve me of all this sadness and suffering. I walked for a little bit, made it to a bridge, and thought. I ended up puking up all the pills I took, and I went back home.

The next day, three of my friends came by, and they checked on me knowing what I tried to do last night. I let them know that it would never happen again. After a few weeks my ex and I got back together. We dated for a year and a half and my depression was pretty much gone My mother was dating a new boyfriend as well. I didn’t approve of him, he loved to go out and come back drunk and accuse my mom of cheating on him. Me, my girlfriend and some friends were hanging out one night. It was around 4 in the morning, when I got a text. I found it strange so I checked it immediately. It was my younger sister who messaged me saying that she heard some screams from my mom and then it stopped. I jumped up immediately and told my friend to drive me home as fast as possible. I called the police as soon as I got in the car. Letting them know something happened to my mom and they needed to come by as soon as possible. I made it home and realized my mom’s door was locked. I heard some noises from the other side and some screams. I knew what was happening. I knocked on the door loudly and tried to get in. My mom was able to open the door and she ran out to me and hid behind my friends and me.

In the room, I see my mom’s intoxicated boyfriend acting as though nothing had happened and tried to fall asleep. The police showed up soon after, grabbed him, and was taking him to the car. He had the audacity to say to my mom “Tell them I didn’t do anything.” I stepped in front of my mom and told him to just shut up and leave. This encounter had another huge impact on my life, but I had grown and changed. I was able to cope with it more than the others. I made sure my mother was okay before I went to bed. After all these events, I’ve matured more than I can put into words.

Every experience changed me into someone who can handle a situation no matter how unexpected it can be. I’ve been better and have been whooping my depression by working out. I play acoustic guitar, I’m currently learning a song that is almost 10 minutes long. I’m almost done with high school; working at Stop and Shop, Going to Italy and ready to get a second job to save up for college. Things have been looking up; you just have to look in the right direction.

If you would like to make a donation, kindly visit: http://mwponline.org/wordpress/donate/