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At the age of five, Devinder moved from India with his family in the search of a better life. After graduating high school, Devinder went to Douglas College, played the men’s soccer team and by 19, captained the team.

But he had also started experimenting with drugs, and by the time his mother was diagnosed with leukemia, he had developed a full blown addiction.

Devinder recalls coming home one night to see his driveway filled with cars. As he entered his home, a neighbour told him that his mother had passed away. The death of his mother still wracks him with guilt and shame. “I wasn’t there when my mom died, and her last words were, ‘Where’s my middle son? Where’s Devinder?,’” he recalls.

Days after her death, Devinder was kicked out his home and went to the Downtown Eastside where he lived for 13 years. From then on, his addiction to drugs and alcohol took over his life.

Devinder resorted to shoplifting to fuel his drug and alcohol addiction, resulting in a criminal record with over 100 charges. When he wasn’t actively trying to maintain his addiction, Devinder would wander the streets and panhandle for money. It was a degrading experience.

“I didn’t care about the law or society, because all I wanted is more alcohol and drugs,” he said. “I had no responsibilities, I had no self esteem – I felt worthless.”

A run in with an old friend changed the course of Devinder’s life. They had a long chat in which his friend encouraged him to go back home. “That day, my friend saw me and said, ‘Hey Devinder, I used to look up to you one time,’ and it really kind of made me think that I’m worth it. That, maybe there’s a better way to live,” Devinder explained.

Acceptance from his community had a huge impact on Devinder’s recovery. “Forgiveness is the biggest thing,” he said. “It’s what makes me really motivated, when I know that in my heart I’m doing something to change – forgiveness, and just being given a second chance.”

Devinder is currently in a recovery program at Trilogy House, a recovery home for men in Surrey who are homeless or at risk for homelessness.

“I’m just grateful for this house, and the opportunity to be a better person, a productive member of society. Today, I feel that I’m a good person, that I have every right to be on this earth that everyone else has.”

by Sheetal Reddy

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