Currently, I am 21 years old and I have been working for Eco Caminhos for 9 months. I was born and raised in the Netherlands and faced a lot of problems whilst growing up there.
I was someone who placed tremendously high demands on himself and from that, succumbed to severe depression. I thought it was necessary to go to the hairdresser at least every two weeks or preferably every week. I wore expensive clothes and spoiled myself every week, buying new things I had no need for. I was very unhappy with myself, but never wanted to show this to others. My parents, brother and some of my good friends were the only people to know of my problems. I found it very difficult to utter any words to anyone about my issues, despite having been with different psychologists for 4 years. I tried a number of different medications to get myself on the right path, but nothing was able to help me.
I was a boy who retreated more and more and did not take responsibility. Not only was it a difficult situation for me, but also for my family and my friends. I felt completely stuck, while the people around me still held high expectations for me. It was after years of struggling with myself that I realized I had to leave everything I knew behind to begin to make a change.
Through my father’s best friend, I contacted Bart Bijen (owner Eco Caminhos). I had a good conversation with him and explained my problems. He told me he wanted to help and that his project and way of living in Brazil was the right place for me to start anew. I finally decided to meet this challenge and booked my flight on March 13th from Amsterdam to Rio de Janeiro. From the day I arrived, I tried all I could to make the most of this opportunity and from that, I have been able to really learn about myself and change my mind as a person.
When I was in my depression, I would constantly be looking at social media with every chance I had. But here in Brazil I realized social media platforms for what they really are and decided to remove everything. Online, people are incredibly open to show the positive aspects of their lives and never the negative, and when I would see these people living these dream lives I would then go on to try and strive for the same and would constantly compare myself to others. After I removed it, all of the noise in my head gradually grew more quiet and I felt much happier within myself.
A significant change since arriving here is my diet. In the Netherlands I would consume a lot of meat and dairy products. Here in Brazil I was open for change and tried out different methods of nutrition. I took a huge step after a while of debating and I became a vegetarian, which I believe has had a positive impact on my mental state.
Here in Cardinot, where the project is situated, I have been able to find the peace I needed to work on my problems, something that I did not have the ability to do in the Netherlands for the last 4 years.
The nature here is really awe inspiring and it’s a pleasure to wake up here everyday. The tranquility I feel whilst being in the midst of amazing surroundings here is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and the people I’m surrounded with are welcoming, open and respectful. We live together with 10 volunteers and the group mentality and togetherness is incredible. The people within the team are eager and always open to help each other with any problems, which gave me a huge sense of relief as I never felt comfortable in the Netherlands to talk about what was going on within myself.
I was able to talk more freely about my problems and learned that it’s good to talk about them. It gave me a sense of belonging and often many emotions came loose. I had to cry occasionally, but I have come to realize that this does not make you weak, it is part of what makes us human.
In my eyes, this is a place where if you’re in a knot and you cannot find a way out, you can find relief and clarity. I am very happy that I made this choice myself and I feel much better now.
We also work with Bio-construction and with Permaculture. It’s a fantastic project and extremely educational. As a team we work very hard together, and at the end of the day you know you are going to sleep feeling accomplished. I’ve found that doing physical work, allows you to let go of the worries within yourself and in turn you’ll feel better mentally.
I have learnt so much here and I would not know where I would be now if I had chosen to stay in the Netherlands. Eco Caminhos is a place to move past your issues and grow as a person.
If you want to know more about our rehabilitation services, please visit Rehabilitation – Go back to the basics