My name is Sulai Rosa. I was a Roca participant at the age of 12; I am now 24 years old. I had a very rough life growing up. My parents weren’t the best and I had very little of everything. When I was about 11 years old I started hanging around with Blood Gang Members of Allston and East Boston which at the time weren’t cool with people in Chelsea. Desperate to leave my home, I got pregnant at the age of 14 by another Blood Gang Member. Everything took a turn for the worse. I got more involved in gangs even after the birth of my child and by the age of 16, I again conceived another child by the same person. Throughout all of this I was smoking more and more weed. I was drinking and caring less every day about my responsibilities. I started taking ecstasy pills and doing a lot of drugs. By the time I turned 17, I had lost both my daughters to their paternal grandmother and that led to a path of complete destruction in my life.

I caused a lot of damage doing the things I did and hurt a lot of good people people that if I now see I will ask them for forgiveness with all my heart. My words would never explain how truly sorry I am to have marked such a terrible scar in their lives.

When I finally got caught in 2004 going on 2005, I was arrested by Chelsea Police and sentenced by court to one year with three months to serve, It was nothing for all the crimes I had committed.

I learned that at that time there were no friends and that life is what you make of it, that it wasn’t too late for me to change and when released from custody I again reached out to Roca for help and again they never said no. I slowly but progressively changed everything, from who I hung out with to the way I spoke and carried myself. Today, through this change I have witnessed many of my friends doing serious time in jail, most with the possibility of never coming back. Last year, in less than four months, four of my friends sadly passed away※one of whom I grew up with in the streets. It hurt me terribly to the point where I didn’t show up to any of their funerals. I really only showed up to two of their wakes and from there I wasn’t seen again.

I received several phone calls from “old friends†asking me why I didn’t go, calling me fake and telling me that I forgot where I came from but I didn’t forget and will never forget who I was and where I came from. I just refuse to go back and surround myself with negativity. I felt very disrespected and very uncomfortable because I just didn’t want to be a part of that life any more. I didn’t want to hear or see anything. I just wanted to know nothing. I felt pain to see that no one is taking the time to see how important our lives are. People are just taking lives away as if they were given that right. I apologize in my own way to my deceased friends.

Today I am truly grateful for the opportunity I have been given to start over※to be alive, to be free, to have a son whom I can spoil and take care of. I am happy to have graduated. I have a referral letter from one of the best hospitals stating how it was a pleasure to work with me. I’m happy because I have my own apartment that I worked hard for and, with a criminal record, believe me, it was hard. Happy because I have a life and a car that I paid for with hard work. I have positive people surrounding me every day of my life.

Sulai Rosa thanks Roca for all the help and assistance she received from them. She is now part of the team and helps rescue many young lives which, like hers, are at risk on the streets. Roca is equally thankful to Sulai for her great example and her incredible dedication to the challenging work of helping the most high-risk young men and women get off the street, stay out of jail, and get jobs.


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