A homeless man underwent an incredible transformation thanks to the helping hand of a kind-hearted stranger.
After only being in Sydney for a day, Luis Xavier del Rosario, 18, said he had gotten off a bus and was already feeling the heat when he spotted Ian begging on the hot pavement near Queen Victoria Building.
‘I felt really bad for him,’ Mr del Rosario said.
‘I saw his cardboard sign and his motto of smiling and staying positive, [it] really touched me.
‘I bought Ian some water and that’s when our journey started.’
Mr del Rosario, a South Australian student, said he sat down with Ian on Monday afternoon, who has been living on the streets for six years, and asked if he could ‘change his life’.
‘He seemed skeptical at first but he quickly got up … it’s good that we were able to establish that level of trust, especially for complete strangers,’ he said.
Usually left alone, the teenager said Ian said he was ‘scared to die, not because of death itself but because [he] won’t be remembered’.
On a mission to start a new life, the pair went shopping for some new outfits, a welcome replacement for the old clothes Ian had been wearing for months.
After his first ‘proper shower in years’ at a local pool, the 52-year-old was able to dress in fresh clothes before Mr del Rosario took him to a barber for a fresh cut to land him a job.
‘He said he had been struggling for most of his life due to the lack of proper education,’ Mr del Rosario said.
‘He never mentioned what work he did before, but he told me he had no qualifications.’
The kind-hearted stranger took Ian, who grew up in a broken family and has been on his own since he was a child, out for his first real meal – a pub chicken schnitzel – in weeks.
‘He loved the dinner, he savoured every bite,’ Mr del Rosario said.
‘Since he has no teeth he would always just eat soft foods like Hungry Jacks … having a real meal prepared for him and eating that meal on a plate made him really happy.
‘His true colours showed, he began to chuckle and smile more.
‘His eyes had a new glow to them, a glow of hope.’
Visiting family for a week in Sydney, Mr del Rosario, who spent about $250 helping Ian, said they went their separate ways after the pub meal but he hoped to check in with the 52-year-old before he leaves.
‘We gave each other a big tight hug and that was the bittersweet ending to our story,’ he said.
With the hope to get a job and have a new start at life, Mr del Rosario, who said his family have ‘loved and supported him’ all his life, shared Ian’s story online which quickly gained more than 14,000 views in less than a day.