Less than a year ago, Kevin, an immigrant from Iran, lived on the streets of Vancouver. A former actor in his country, this wasn’t the life he had imagined. He had no home, no money and no family. Today, with help from The Salvation Army, he has a roof over his head and hope for a better future.
“I had many different problems,” says Kevin, 30. “Life was hard. But The Salvation Army changed that.”
In 2006, Kevin was a successful actor and professional inline skater in Iran. With a passion for causes close to his heart, such as MS and cancer, he rollerbladed across the country raising funds to help combat the diseases. On his journey he took notes to pass on to the government about peoples’ concerns. But with restrictions on freedom of speech, he was arrested and imprisoned.
“I fled to Turkey and then to Bulgaria to avoid capture,” says Kevin. “Bulgarian police caught me and sent me back to a Turkish prison where I lived for one year. It was a very tough time.”
In 2011 Kevin immigrated to Canada and eventually moved to Vancouver. With limited English, he struggled to find employment, which led to financial problems and homelessness.
“I wandered the streets in despair,” says Kevin. “All I owned was a backpack. I couldn’t sleep and didn’t eat properly.”
Before long, a street acquaintance directed Kevin to The Salvation Army’s Belkin House, a residential program facility that helps the homeless and those at risk of homelessness become self-sufficient and independent.
“When I came to The Salvation Army, life got better,” says Kevin. “With housing and my basic needs met, I was able to focus on improving my situation. I found part-time work and have peace in my heart.”
At Belkin House, Kevin was equipped with necessary and critical life, living and employment-related skills to move forward. “The Salvation Army helps people journey from where they are to where they want to be,” says Les McAusland, director of residential services.
“The Salvation Army is hope, my home and my family,” says Kevin. “Their support helped me forget the hard place I was in. I’ve found my way again and that is awesome.”