One beautiful morning in August somebody suggests over a cup of coffee that I tell something about my life, the road I travelled. Who am I that someone asks me to talk about myself?

© P-Y Jortay

I am a young man of 36 and life has not been easy on me. Because, yep, I knew years of misery, two as a homeless person.

Before that I had my own small apartment. I had several jobs, sometimes as a postman, sometimes helping out in garages.

I was lucky to be able to rent cheaply from super owners, cordial, friendly, where I could even do my laundry! But the good times didn’t last forever.

One day they reclaimed their apartment because their son needed it. He had reached the age to leave the nest. No problem, time to step aside for someone else.

It was then that the problems began. Finding a new home at an affordable rent… My mother, with whom I remained in contact when she separated from my father, is no longer there to help me.

With my father I’ve lost all contact and cannot expect any help from him. Same for my brothers. They no longer live in the area. And they’ve got their own lives to live.

Luckily, I know the area well, and the area knows me well too.

A friend housed me for some time. I get by as well as I can but it’s not always easy.

Drink cheered me up sometimes. Regularly. A bit too often perhaps? I was going down the hill and I knew I had to change course.


© P-Y Jortay

I went to social welfare, and they helped. But what really got me back on my feet was the support of my social worker. A fantastic person!

I am also lucky to know other workers at the center. I grew up in this area and kept my contacts – very helpful indeed!

Thanks to this friendly support, I found a new home through a social real estate agent. And from then on, I was accompanied by Street Nurses.

After two years living on the street, I could breathe a sigh of relief. My home is not exactly luxurious, but so what? I’d love to embellish it a bit.

But above all, I found a new job! I can do all sorts of work and expect to get a contract soon - of unlimited duration.

It was thanks to my fantastic social worker that I found an article 60 job, which now gets consolidated – as a solid contract.

To feel useful, that matters to me. Be part of a team!

I work in an old people’s home. Everybody knows me, I love to deal with people!

So, I’m fully occupied every day! Quite a relief. I recognize myself again, turn less around in circles, no longer alone, all by myself. And “drink cheer” is also less required.

Perhaps I’ll now try to find more luminous lodgings, better furnished.

I’d also like to travel. A friend and I would like to go to Haiti, even though the situation there is pretty complicated now, not to mention sanitary constraints.

- Raphael

Want to learn more about our work in My Way?

(*) We make every effort to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. Nevertheless, we want to bear witness to how they have to survive and how we work together to reintegrate them. Therefore, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in another context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.

© P-Y Jortay - Street Nurses 2021