The boxer guy. Past and present.
It is very encouraging for me to let my
colleagues once in a while present their own stories on some of the
people they work with. This time Raul is telling us about one of his
beneficiaries who is supported through
the Homeless Project. Read on to find out more about ‘a champion’.
of you will know the story of this man –
This is his name, but most of us will know him as Ioany or
Johnny, the boxer guy.
has been through so many things that would fill-up two
lives. From being the former European vice-champion in Boxing, having
a happy life, great prospects and future, to
finding only in months he lost everything!
Family and friends, peace, liberty, eventually his dignity, all
disappeared as if it never existed.
This was the situation when I met him 5
years ago. A pale shadow of the former fighter, impressive in the
arena and acclaimed by many but now just a poor homeless person that
had just come out of prison. These were the
tough years, he says, when the prison changes everything, takes the
dear ones away and take you away from all you’ve known before. Even
takes God away. After so many years being
isolated, once he was a free man again, the society only isolated him
more. Johnny was an outlaw now, a worthless criminal, who could only
prepare and wait for his ending.
It was not easy to gain his trust and it was
about many promises that I had to keep and many promises he broke. But
we had to get over these and continue trying. We became friends and
only then we could in fact start the procedures for him to receive
some benefits from the state or medical insurance, these papers being
processed only if someone like Smiles would get involved.
I saw him in various situations, I found
particularly disturbing to see him trying to rise again after the
police will chase him away, or the land owners will send him out of
wherever he was trying to build a shack. A house made of cardboard.
But the most challenging was to get him a job, to help him having a
secure income for some self-sustainability and dignity. Johnny had a
criminal record for murder, so it was not easy to find something and
someone to accept this, for months we were looking without success.
About three years ago, Johnny with his
partner Mary, found a little concrete structure that use to be in
service for the workers in a factory to store their tools. Being
abandoned, they moved in, painted the walls, cleaned the area and
arranged the place a little bit. It felt like home. Unfortunately for
them, the legal owner sold the land and they thought, as we did, that
they will be evicted. But it was not like that! The new owner met
Johnny, talked to him, understood his situation and allowed him to
stay. Even more, he helped him with some materials and encouraged him
to take care of their little house. And totally unexpected, offered a
job to Johnny!
He is the security guy now. He takes care of
the place during night time. It’s so true that no one will try to
challenge a former boxing champion by breaking in! Johnny also helps
during the day time with whatever is needed. We are indeed very happy
to see how a difficult and complicated past changed into a calm and
settled present and we hope the future will continue to be hopeful.
Raul – Homeless Project Manager
As you see, life is surprising and not all
together hopeless. But it takes time, patience and commitment to help
people like Johnny, whose bad past threatens a good future. Yet, being
a friend and being
can give a second chance and most definitely God can turn things in a
way that most unexpectedly will turn the odds.
Thank you for being a Smiles supporter and making these things
possible through your prayers and support!
God bless you and please keep in touch!