Gathering pieces of young, shattered lives
BRUISED and haggard, Haley has a $ 600- a- day heroin habit. Chris is battling an addiction to ice, a drug that sends him crazy. Owen smoked
heaps’’ of ice, and spent his childhood in and out of juvenile detention.
On the face of it, they are foulmouthed, feckless and angry. Like thousands of other Australian street kids, they turn to drugs for solace, usually spurning the efforts of dogooders. Yet the Salvation Army’s Paul Moulds has spent 25 years trying to help Owen, Haley and others like them.
Moulds runs the Oasis Youth Refuge, which sleeps 14 teenagers who would otherwise sleep on a pavement or in a park. He tries to find the street kids work and permanent accommodation when they want it, and he tries to get them to sign up to drug rehabilitation programs. He deals with daily abuse and ingratitude, yet every now and then his unflagging patience and compassion score a win.
Like Darren, whom Moulds found as an eight- year- old sleeping in a hole in the wall. Darren’s mother had packed up and abandoned him and his older brother.
Darren had the childhood from hell, and he was soon sucked into a 15- year heroin addiction.
Moulds helped him get through a detox program, and helped him find a flat after seven years on the street. These days he is apparently settled in and returning to Oasis to help out with volunteer work. Owen, too, has overcome his ice addiction and now works as a gardener.
This gripping and extremely unsettling documentary follows the life and times of Darren, Owen and several other street- dwellers who come and go, using Oasis as a shelter, a home base, and a counselling service.
The filmmakers obviously put in a great deal of work to chronicle the darker side: there is footage of one street kid on ice going berserk and finally being dragged away by the police, and footage of the funeral of another lost soul who fell to his death from a skyscraper.
Haley, who has the monster heroin habit and dabbles with ice as a sideline, provides some haunting moments. Now in her early 20s, she has been in and out of Oasis since she was 15; she left home after the boyfriend of her druggie mother kept bashing her up. Once she wanted to be a nurse, and maybe get married and have children. But ice and heroin have undone her and she tells the camera, crying, that her life is a mess.
Moulds’s wife, Robyn ( another Salvation Army saint), goes looking for Haley in Hyde Park, where she now often sleeps under the bushes.
She finds her, hugs her, offers her some help, and finally, necessarily, lets her go.
Unflagging patience: The Salvation Army’s Paul Moulds