When Milan and his wife divorced, he left his family home in a small village and moved to Bratislava looking for work. As he got older, his wages began to fall while rental prices continued to go up and up. At the age of 70, when so many of us would be looking forward to retirement, and perhaps spending more time with grandchildren, Milan found himself homeless and living on the streets.
Eventually, he found an abandoned cottage in the forest outside of Bratislava. With the help of his friends, he built a roof and doors for the cottage, so he could shelter there. But it was small and cramped, in an isolated location, and had no running water, gas or electricity.
Depaul Slovakia’s outreach team came across Milan in his cottage, and immediately provided assistance. They helped him to arrange his pension, brought him groceries, organised medical help, and continued to check in on him.
Milan’s difficult living conditions began to take their toll and came to a head when a bad fall left him with a broken leg and in need of surgery. The outreach team referred Milan to the Depaul Housing Programme who managed to find Milan an apartment. Milan now lives in a safe, warm, and comfortable home, where he receives additional support from the Depaul Slovakia team to sustain his tenancy.
“Now I live in a furnished apartment, my life is definitely easier. In my apartment, I have heat, electricity, water and gas. Before, I had to source it all myself. For example, if I needed to wash or do laundry, I’d have to fetch water. I also spent a lot of time preparing wood for my stove, so I could keep warm throughout winter. Now, everything is in one place. It’s a big change.
“I’m currently recovering from surgery. I’m just learning to walk again and can’t go outdoors much, so I’m buying things for my apartment that make me happy, like houseplants. I already have a lot of them, and they’re doing great here. I find them really comforting.
“Last year, I spent Christmas in the cottage. It was hard – I had to get up early to heat my stove, wash outside in the cold, and cook on the stove.
“This year, Christmas will be merrier and more relaxing. I’m going to buy a Christmas tree for my apartment. I love cooking and baking, so I will cook a carp and bake something sweet. It’s a big step forward.
“I want to thank all the Depaul staff who have helped me. I enjoy every visit with them and hope to be fit again as soon as possible. I can’t wait for my first hike in the woods.”
Together, we can ensure that more people like Milan have a safe place to call home so please give as generously as you can.