When Calin was just a toddler, a little girl found him on the street. He had been badly beaten and had a broken arm.
That was as much as he knew about his origins as he grew up in Romania’s orphanage system, progressing through no fewer than five institutions. But at the age of 15 he searched for his family and found an older sister who put him in the picture: he was one of 13 children and it had been his own mother who abandoned him on the street.
With a background story like that, who could blame him for going off the rails? For a while he lived rough, sleeping on the streets of Cluj, the principal city of Transylvania. At 23 he was offered a place in Blythswood’s Daniel Centre, where he stayed for two and a half years. There he learned some basic life-skills: how to cook, how to manage his time, how to budget and look after money. And he began to attend church.
Looking back now he says the most valuable thing he learned at the Centre was how to be himself. His yearning for more freedom caused him to move out before completing the programme. Things didn’t go as planned and soon he found himself in bad company but through it all he managed to hold on to the job he had started before leaving the Daniel Centre.
Now he is employed as a merchandiser, working for a large company to stock their shops. He has a girlfriend, someone he met at work. And he regularly participates in Blythswood’s aftercare programme, a group of about a dozen young adults which meets every Wednesday.
“I’ve learned a lot,” he says. “Being able to share thoughts and feelings within the group is important to me. “I’ve learned how to handle stress and moments of crisis, and how to be more serious.”
Calin continues to attend church and is even learning to play tennis. He proudly remembers the occasion at work when he was asked several questions by managers in front of 400 people and was able to answer them all with clarity and confidence. He says: “Blythswood’s aftercare programme has given me self-confidence. I can meet people without being nervous.”
Photo above: Calin when he was resident at the Daniel Centre in 2012; the aftercare programme has helped build his confidence.