His moustache is trimmed. His hair is combed back. He has a big smile on his lips. He greets me. I raise my head and meet his gaze. His big green eyes take me straight back to our last meeting.
It was a few months ago. Sitting in a café in the city centre, we had talked about a possible housing solution. While sipping his hot chocolate, he confided that getting a flat might be complicated for him. He went on to explain that he often felt the need to shout at night. This confession may have seemed surprising, but the explanation was much less so.
Grief. He has lost his parents, some of his siblings and many relatives over the years. So he cries out to heaven. Cries of anger, cries of sadness, cries of helplessness...
I remember this conversation because the following week I learned that he had tried to commit suicide.
At that time, he was living in a tent. He preferred to meet us in a local café, because he said it was dangerous to walk in the woods where he was living.
Today I see a different man. Proud and charismatic, he wears a beige jacket, blue jeans and clean shoes. Shaking my hand, he says "You'll have five minutes to talk to me". I've just got off the bus, getting ready to go home after a day's work. I am so surprised to see him like this, enthusiastic and cheerful, that I don't hesitate.
We sit down at the bus stop and he tells me that he will take the next one to meet his friend.
He then explains that he is fine. One of his friends came by yesterday to help him tidy up and clean his place: "We threw away a lot of cans, as I drink, there were quite a few". He also calls his home "the shed". It is one of the movable modules in which Street Nurses has invested and where he moved in a few months ago. This module is located in a safe place, far from any neighbourhood.
During the evenings, he can scream and shout.
He has a long way to go and is certainly still having difficulties. But a lot has changed for him.
He still lives in the wild, but he is now safe, secure and above all, free!
- Elisabeth, Street Nurse
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(*) We do our utmost to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. However, we want to testify to how they must survive and how we are working together to reintegrate them. As a result, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in a different context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.