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Neetin Chauhan moved from India to Vancouver when he was 18. The only son in his family, he was overwhelmed by the pressure of trying to bridge two worlds, slipped into addiction, and ended up on the streets. Your support of Good Shepherd’s services helped him get into treatment and into housing.
The drinking started when I tried to fit in with western culture. I would have one beer, two beers, but by the time I was in my early twenties, I was drinking every day.
I had a job as a welder, so I always had a lot of money in my pocket. Instead of dealing with the friction with my family, I blocked it out with drinking and partying.
By 2010, I had burnt all my bridges in Vancouver. I left my family behind and went to Ontario.
I always found work in the technical trades; I always had abundant money and no constructive behaviour. My problems became more complex.
I didn’t grow up in Canada, so I didn’t know there were resources to help people like me. I thought I was living the way people lived in the Western world — drinking and working.
By 2013, my problems became so complex I couldn’t hold a job. I lost my apartment. In the summer, it wasn’t too bad — I worked as a welder at night, and drank and slept in the parks during the day.
For about a month, I came to Good Shepherd for meals because I felt safe. There was no judgement in anyone’s eyes. Then I stopped coming for a while because I made so much money I stayed drunk for days.
One day — the beginning of the Labour Day weekend — I came back to the drop-in. Michael, the drop-in worker, said, “You’re looking rough, what’s going on?”
I opened up to him. It was the first time in my life I opened up to someone. I told him my drinking was a problem.
Michael said, “You know we have a program for that.” He radioed Maggie, the weekend DARE Program worker. But I was afraid. I thought it would be like jail. As soon as his back was turned, I ran away.
However, I came for the next meal. This time, Michael held my arm while he radioed Maggie. She came down and talked to me. She reminded me of my aunt or grandmother. She comforted me.
I was scared of detox, and I didn’t know where to go. The shelter where I was staying wasn’t safe — I had witnessed stabbings and fights.
Maggie told me “I can’t admit you to DARE, but survive two days where you are, and then come back so the DARE intake worker can admit you.”
So I left Good Shepherd, and I started walking to where I was staying, and already I was debating with myself, thinking I would not go back.
I walked to Sherbourne Street, and then I heard someone call my name. It was Maggie. She was out of breath. She had run after me all the way from Good Shepherd to tell me she had a bed for me at the Centre.
That was a crucial, life-turning event for me. If she had not run after me, I would not have gone back. She was like an angel to me at that time. I have never seen that kind of hospitality before — it showed me that hospitality and love still survive in this world.
It all starts from Good Shepherd. If this place wasn’t here, I would still be lost on the streets. It made me feel loved again. I didn’t feel like a failure here.
Thank you to this place for bringing a son back to his family. My family is so happy – my mom is so happy. Spiritually, I feel so content. I’m not a slave to a substance. Thank you.