Forty-year-old Matthew came to us from another city. Immediately upon arrival, he became actively involved in the regularity of life of our House: in garden work, minor and major repairs. Open-minded, he was happy to start conversations on various topics. He sought help and guidance in small or large matters. Soon, he shared with us his life testimony:
“I lived in a family with my mother, two brothers, a sister and a father who was an alcoholic. I had my first encounter with the street at the age of 11, when my father would drive us out of the house into the street under the influence of alcohol. That’s when I learned to navigate and survive outside. I was hungry and forced to steal food. I am aware that the prevailing opinion today is that homelessness is a choice. But in talking to you, to the staff at the House of Refuge, I realised I wasn’t to blame for the childhood I had, I didn’t choose that. I’m guilty of my own bad choices later in life, but I’m not guilty of ending up on the streets at an early age. I spent my elementary school years living in fear of my alcoholic father. I wanted to enrol in high school, and my father opposed this. I went to the Social Welfare Centre myself and they took care of me: I enrolled in high school for a waiter. I had a hard time coping growing up in these conditions and so I started drinking alcohol. Right now, on the street, the hardest thing for me is that every morning when I wake up the first thing I think of is alcohol. Every day is a struggle, a survival – life on the street is a special world. Hard world. The way out of this situation, I see my future in quitting drinking, in dealing with alcoholism. If I could get rid of my addiction, I could slowly start putting my life together. ”
Depaul Croatia implements the program “Healed for Freedom”, which is aimed at systematic work with alcohol addicts. This program includes the rehabilitation of a person in different areas, in addition to the basic ones: health care, occupational rehabilitation, inclusion in support groups, individual mentoring. Matthew is one of those people who immediately upon his arrival began to gradually build steps towards a better future by actively engaging in this program.