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David’s story

Do you still live in the halfway house?
David: I left the beginning of February.

When did you arrive at the halfway house?
Was it by the end of November 2017 or 2018? I don’t know exactly, but it probably was 2018.

So you were here for more than a year?
I was here for approximately two years.

Where did you come to the halfway house from?
In quotation marks I say “from the street”.

And how was your situation before your arrival at the halfway house? Was it difficult?
It wasn’t easy because most of the time I had no permanent place where I could stay, sleep and live. There were weekends when I slept in a tram or on the street. So it wasn’t easy. I’m the kind of man who is able to bear a lot, but I often reached my limits. Before my arrival, it was difficult and not exactly comfortable. I could have struggled through, one would get used to it, but there was nothing enjoyable about it.

How did you decide to go to the halfway house?
My sister offered it to me. She found it on the internet and forwarded it to me. And there was another acquaintance who knew a little something about it. So I gave it a chance and it worked out.

And what were your expectations of the halfway house?
Reintegration into the ordinary society. I had read all about what they deal with and therefore I expected them to help me with my return to ordinary life. I expected that they would offer me shelter for some time and help me to socialize again. In case I didn’t find a job, they would for sure know what to do. They would teach me how to get back into life.

How did your life change during your stay at the halfway house?
Into something completely different. First there was a place I could return to. Here there were people whom I could speak to in an unvarnished fashion about everything. No one was pretending. Everybody was relaxed. My life has changed a lot. I don’t know how to describe it. It has changed completely. When someone takes you off the streets and brings you back into ordinary life, so you can live again, then it’s a completely different life.

The question “What was different?” you have already started to answer. So you had a place to return to …
Again, I had a place to return to. Again, I had the chance to speak normally with people, ordinary people, who often were in a pretty similar situation. Many had come from the street. Many left an environment that wasn’t ideal. I had such experiences too. But this made it possible to speak normally with everybody.

Now let’s focus on the changes that happened during your time at the halfway house. How has your attitude towards life changed?
It is true, before I arrived at the halfway house, I repeatedly had the tendency to do something stupid, if you know what kind of stupidity I mean. Here I completely stopped thinking about it. Why would I do it when there are others in way worse situations and there is something that can be done about it? Actually, you can climb out of every kind of shit.

And what has changed in the areas of work and education?
Well, I didn’t finish school, because I still had this block in me. But my view on work changed. I started to feel like working. Before I hadn’t felt like doing anything. I had no appetite for life. And now? Yes! If I got the opportunity to go back to school, I would finish it, even if it wasn’t very useful to me. My sentiment has changed extremely, definitively to the better.

How have your relationships with people changed?
Not much. I never was a very social person. To meet someone for a coffee and have a conservation, I don’t manage. But it taught me a bit to understand human beings. I have always been empathetic. I’m able to understand when someone has a problem. And here in the halfway house I have understood that some people are able to understand that too. I always kept extreme distance from others, but now I’m not afraid anymore to let others close to me.

Which change was the biggest or most important after your arrival at the halfway house?
Mostly the psychic change. I was a very withdrawn and shy person. I didn’t want to socialize with other people and kept a distance. Although I still have it in me to avoid some things, there are things I’m able to face today. This was the biggest change – the unlocking of the big block in my head. To know that I can achieve something.

And how did DOM contribute to this change?
How? That is a good question. I think mainly by how people behave here. Here everybody is approximately in the same situation, like I’ve said before. Nobody pretends anything. You can say how things are and you’ll get advice. They help you. They tell you what you should do, how you should do it and why you should do something. They don’t push you to do something, but they tell you what would be good to do. And after they have given advice, it is your thing if you measure the temperature. They simply provide advice. And if you want it, they will push you to do it.

Where and how do you live now?
I live in a new, small flat. Well, it’s a room. I live in the Prague quarter Braník. I have a flat mate. It is nothing special. It is a room I have only for myself. Then there is a kitchen where one can cook and a bath where you can take a bath. So, everything a person needs. There is privacy. There is everything. My flat mate is a foreigner, a reliable fellow, and there is also a Czech guy with whom I like to speak about romance. Yes, I’m learning well.

Did the halfway house have some influence on this?
They helped me find this flat. My advisor help a lot in the search. She procured this flat. I went to the flat viewing. We signed the contract and we paid at the place. They helped me enormously. They helped me understand the legal part – what I can do and what I can’t. That kind of help.

Would you like to add something?
If I still could add something, I would like to thank (as they are not present here) all the people who helped me. Mainly for always being on my side and that they always seemed “cool”. When I needed something, I could say it. Nobody threw me away. Nobody said to me, “Get lost!” Here I have some comrades, which I maybe didn’t have before. Before I had only a few acquaintances and here I have found some more. I am still in contact with one person. We meet when we can and go out for a beer. So a lot of things have changed here and it is really better now.

Thank you for this interview.

We measure the impact of our activities.
Project: Stories from DOM.

For many years DOM has dedicated itself to disadvantaged teenagers and young adults, who are often invisible to the general public. These youth are “alone among people”. They have had a troubled childhood and have little or no support from their family. Their very serious difficulties can be incomprehensible to others. In our demanding society they manage neither to engage nor to assert themselves.
On the basis of long experience, up-to-date and professional resources and sophisticated methods, the experts at DOM “save the lives” of young people whose prospects seem hopeless when they are about to start adult life.

The project Stories from DOM was inspired by the idea that every client has a story of their journey which starts with an unfavourable situation and then progresses to personal development and positive change. This change and its recognition are the key topics of this project.

In order to measure our activities we use the MSC (Most Significant Change) method. You can learn more about MSC here:
The ‘Most Significant Change’ (MSC) Technique
A Guide to Its Use by Rick Davies and Jess Dart