The story of Paolo, an happy ending story
We met Paolo in the street.
He was staying overnight in a passenger cage on platform 2, at the Pescara station, almost in front of the police station. He told us that he was there “a bit for challenge, a bit for protection”.
Paolo was a kind of Cheyenne from central Italy: long hair, necklaces, bracelets, feathers… He drank five liters of red wine a day.
He never told us his story, we didn’t know anything about his life. We just knew he was angry.
He followed his own rules. In fact, every time at Train de Vie center he hung his socks where he liked. That’s the way he was.
One day he decided to occupy the Help Center.
“It’s cold out at night!” he said, “It’s absurd that your day center is only open during the day!”
Maybe he was right. So we gave him the keys to the Center, telling him that if he felt ready and capable, he could handle the 80 people who visit the Help Center every day.
Paolo at that time did not trust anyone. But by putting ourselves at his side, we hoped to become his friends and gain his trust. In the end our method worked, Paolo gave us the keys back, and from that day on we began to look for solutions together.
Paolo loved to write. He gave his best at Train de Vie’s writing workshop. He wrote lots of poems, stories, street stories. He also started helping us with a play. Not as an actor because he was too shy, but as a light technician.
During all the time he was with us, we never told Paolo to stop drinking: after four years of street life he had become strong-willed, and he was always very convinced of his positions and his choices. But to handle a task as important as controlling the lights of a show, he had to be sober. That was the spark because from that moment something changed in him.
It was Paolo who asked us for help to stop drinking, we remember very well the day we accompanied him to the clinic, we remember very well that first step he took to be accepted into a community.
Let’s say we were probably more scared than he was.
After only one month in the clinic, he had already changed, he had become the director ad honorem, he had already become the friend of all, he had that first sincere smile that we will never forget. The path to change was long and had just begun, but Paolo had regained the courage to make a decision that he never gave up. He started talking about his story. He told us about his daughter who had not been able to grow up and who had not seen for many years, he told us about his desire to recover the relationship with her and with his family.
After two years of community, which were not simple, Paolo found work as a caregiver of an elderly person and also became our valid and appreciated volunteer. But the most important thing is that he recovered his relations with the family, he was able to meet his daughter and be with her.
Paolo is free now.
Free from that road that had blocked him in a condition of continuous distrust.
Free from the alcohol that anesthetized him.
Free to live a serene life, working and giving us a great help as a volunteer.
We just think about him and all our work immediately makes sense.
It is also thanks to your help that people like Paolo manage to take a different path, made of confidence in themselves and in others, of willpower and autonomy, in order to finally live a free life.
It’s also thanks to your help that we can give homeless people the tools they need to find a way out.
Credits: photo taken during the play “Venditori di patate” from Train de Vie Center’s theater workshops for Pescara homeless people, directed by Lorenzo Marvelli
Artwork by Alessandro Schiavoni