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My name is Daniele and I am thirty-one.  I am a boy who has done a lot of harm to himself and to those who were near me while I lived many years in the illusion of drugs, selfishness, and solitude, and this was because I was always looking for “something more”.  It was habit for me to do that all that came into my head; today I realize that I was a slave to evil even before I started taking drugs, for that need of strong emotions, of something by which I could escape from the suffering and difficulties of life.
My parents had cared for me and given me everything they were able to,  but it was not what I needed.  I never felt a “friend” of my father, I never had true dialogue with him and this caused me to live a profound suffering in my heart and to search for friendship outside my family.  I searched for happiness in the things that made me more and more dependent, escaping a long distance from those who cared for me, closing myself in my selfishness and in a solitude that destroyed me.  I saw people older than me as strong and I wanted to be like them and all of this made me choose the wrong road, the way of drugs, that was a total illusion.
I started taking drugs at the age of sixteen, smoking cigarettes and joints, and kept company with boys who were older than me.  I was convinced that it was more or less normal to create “havoc” in the evening.  I went to work  and the money I earned was necessary to keep myself on drugs; at times this was not even enough and therefore I got them in other ways, combining different things, stealing everything from everybody; from my parents, and friends…I would get up in the morning and straight away the thought that tormented me was how to get drugs: It was my only fixed thought during the day.  In the end I also experienced prison, where the only law was the one of the strongest and most cunning.  There I touched the bottom. I entered the community, brought by my parents, but in reality I still thought I could make it  with my own strength!  Here I met many boys who had had the same problem but who had a lot of will to live and fight for what is good, for something that is true.  The first time I saw them on their knees praying in the chapel in the morning was a “shock”, but their strength and tenacity, their will to go on in the end involved, convinced and pushed me. 
After only half a day of being in community I met Mother Elvira; I did not know anything about her.  The first thing she did was to ask my name, give me a hug, and then shake me saying: “You have to commit yourself and will"!  She told me straight away what I have to do, and I will remember this for ever.
Rethinking about my parents, above all my Father whom I lost after one month in community, I understand that I can not judge them because it was difficult to raise a son like me.  I realize how many times I did not accept what my Father told  me, and still he always cared about me, giving me what he could, what he had also received from life.  I understood this here in community when I was a “guardian angel” for other boys, at times much younger than me and I tried to convey to them what I had learnt.  There, in the difficulty to love, overcoming my impatience and learning to suffer with maturity, I lived on my own skin what my parents had lived with me.
In the community walk I am finally running along the way of goodness, learning day by day to put my energy and strength in this direction; I am committed to living days that are made of little things, of small acts and also renouncements, of sacrifices…the same from which once I escaped.  I am discovering the true valour of life, friendship and forgiveness that before were for me “driven” only out of interest.  Today I have learnt that forgiving myself and my mistakes, those who are close to me or those who wound me, I feel better, good, capable of loving and suffering for something that is beautiful and true.   
One of the most extraordinary and unthinkable things that the community has given me again is the faith in God: it has transformed my cry, my scream of desperation and sadness, into trust and hope that there is something beautiful for each of us.  I have rediscovered a God who is merciful through the boys who are next to me and the people I meet, who forgive my mistakes and my poverty.  I feel fortunate for all the things that I am freely receiving from God and the community, from this school of life in which there is always something new to learn every day.  I thank God with all my heart for this new life.  Thank you.

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