In My Own Words - Carmela-
This was in stark contrast to her parents using her as a house servant and a child prostitute.
Although a misfit in school, she found the halls of academia to be her place of refuge and the
nurse's couch often her place of rest when not at the home of her grandparents.
When at her own home Michelle Carmela's free time was occupied by studying her mother's moods,
and strategizing how to best meet the ever changing whims of her parents in order that she may avoid
having "time out" in the dark, dank, spider, rat, and snake infested basement. The last chore of the night
before bed was to scrub the kitchen floor. Michelle Carmela now often remembers when as a little girl, one
Saturday morning, she came down the stairs to see blood everywhere. Her first thoughts were if the
kitchen and living room were not clean by the time her parents awoke would she spend the day in the
basement? Then she started crying knowing the mess was too great and she would never get it cleaned.
Time and time again, Michelle Carmela was warned by her mother, that if she ever complained
to anyone about the happenings in their house or her "working for her dad" by letting him and his friends
"visit" her at night, it would get back to her grandfather and then her father would be killed leaving her siblings
without a father and she herself would have the guilt to bare of leaving her siblings fatherless.
Michelle Carmela never understood who she would complain to, as the people who "visited" her were cops,
teachers, and other authorities in the small community of Western Pennsylvaina.
A lifetime of twenty-five years has now since past, and Michelle Carmela goes by either Michelle or Carmela.
In that life time, Carmela has helped men, women and children who were caught in child abuse and/or
domestic abuse to find strength and resources to leave their situations. Her criss-crossing the United States to
implore communities to invest in their youth often prompts "invitations" from the local and sometimes international
organized crime lords. Invitations she joyfully still accepts, but not without letting a lot of people know she is going
"just incase." Many of these meetings have resulted in prostitutes, drug users, drug dealers and members of the mafia
themselves leaving organized crime to seek help, which Carmela happily helps them so do.
Carmela uses her own life experiences to advise other organizations and NGOs who seek her councel.
She also gives lectures and workshops about growing up in the mafia culture, with the hopes to strip away
the glamorized romanticized menacing image of the mafia. Through the auspices of Once Upon An Eden and
the NGO T.H.I.N. of Nairobi, Kenya, Carmela has set her goal to eradicate human trafficking and organized crime and
and the long term affects one community garden at a time. To learn more, please go to