For 30 years, Depaul has supported homeless people across the world – and we know winter is the most dangerous time of the year. Now, more than ever, we rely on the generosity of supporters so we can offer our life-saving services to those facing Christmas on the streets. But homelessness is not inevitable – we can end it. Read Misha’s story below.

Misha’s Story: One of the lucky ones

” I had to escape. The fighting reached my town, Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine. There was shelling and burning all around the city. It took my house. It was burnt out, completely destroyed. I had nothing left.

I had to move west, to Kharkiv, a large city away from the conflict. Everyone was going there, but there was nothing there for me. Nothing.

We slept in the railway station, or in the subways. Because you can’t sleep outside. No way. It’s too cold. -20C in winter. You would die; people do die.

Four years I was on the streets of Kharkiv. I had my 40th birthday on the streets.


One day I went to Depaul’s outreach van. I had heard it comes to the railway station. When I got there a whole line of people were waiting for food. Depaul’s nice staff were giving out borscht [traditional east European soup]. Steaming cups. It warms you up, you see.

The nurse at the van noticed me struggling to walk. I didn’t want to tell anyone, but she noticed the limping. She took me to the side of the van. When she pulled up my trouser leg all this pus came out. It poured out, yellow-green liquid on the pavement.

She called the ambulance. I had a very high temperature too. But it didn’t come. They said everyone was busy. Oh, that’s normal. Hospitals don’t like to treat homeless people. But Depaul’s nurse she kept calling. She didn’t give up on me. It came eventually.

Well, they had to amputate it. The foot. The left one. Those years on the streets, these are my scars.

Depaul found me a place in their shelter. So when I left hospital I had somewhere to go. I don’t know where I would have gone otherwise. Back to the streets, I guess. Not many beds available in this city, not for the homeless. I was one of the lucky ones.

I met my partner last year. I am very lucky to have found her! I live with her and her children. So I have a home now. Life can start again. ”