Parents can so easily destroy their children’s lives. For Danijel, his father’s physical violence and emotional abuse imbued him with a deep sense of worthlessness. But, now Danijel has found hope at House of Opportunity, and although things won’t be easy, he knows that he can make it.
My name is Danijel, I’m 23 years old. Until the age of twelve, I lived with my mum, dad, brother and two sisters in an old and very small house. We often slept on the floor, where it was hard and cold. Hunger was an almost daily occurrence. I worked a lot because I was the oldest, but nothing was ever good enough. In fact, I was often physically punished, sometimes twice a day. Dad was very violent, mostly under the influence of alcohol. Mum was silent, she was probably afraid of him. My dad instilled in me a sense of worthlessness, that I would never succeed in my life.
One day, social services came and took me, my brother and sisters into foster families. I’ll never forget that day. Everyone around me was crying, and I thought – this is the way out for me. My brother and I were placed in one family and our sisters in another. The family where my brother and I are staying welcomed us well at first. We had a warm bed, food to eat, normal schooling conditions!
But after a year, my foster parents demanded that I work more and more. It was not easy for me because I had a lot of obligations at school. In the end, I finished school as an assistant chef and at the age of 18 I started living independently.
I got a job at a nursing home in the kitchen, and I thought, I can make a life by myself! But after a year I realised that I couldn’t. I was lonely, and it was hard for me to survive day in and day out. My sister told me about the House of Opportunity in Varaždin (Croatia), where she was living. Her life had changed in the House, and I asked myself – why not give it a try? I have nothing to lose.
I’ve been in the House for over a year now and yes, my life has changed. The people here support and mentor me and I am very grateful. I have changed jobs, and I am very satisfied. I finally know I have worth, and I have my plans and goals, the dreams I pray for! I finally believe I can succeed!