From Melbourne to Denver, Taipei to Athens, vendors across the globe share what makes their part of the world unique. The interviews were conducted in honour of this year’s #VendorWeek, the International Network of Street Paper’s (INSP) annual, global celebration of the 10 000 men and women who sell street papers in 35 countries around the world. This year, the celebration ran from 6 to 12 February.
What has been your biggest achievement?
Actually, I haven’t felt a sense of achievement. I just discovered there are many people looking at me while playing on their phones. There are many situations, too. For example, the police will come for me, and some troubles happen because of them. What has been your biggest challenge? There are no challenges. I always find a solution to overcome it. There are many people who come for me; some will report my selling to the police as an illegal behaviour. But most people who interact with me are kind. Have you ever thought about doing another job? Yes, I thought about selling fruits or other things before. What are your hopes for the future? That everything’s going to be okay. I will try my best. What’s special about your country? Although Taiwan is known for friendliness and kindness, I still feel some people are quite hard to interact with. If you were the boss of the world for one day, what would you do? (Laughs) That’s not possible. But I just want to go back to Kinmen Island and work on a farm. How has selling The Big Issue Taiwan changed your life? My salary has become better. Since I have a job, my temper is also calm. Back in the day, I was very irritable.
Interview by Wee Yun Jin
What has been your biggest achievement?
There are three. The first is getting the guts up and being a Big Issue vendor, because words cannot explain how it has changed my life. I believe it’s a major achievement that I get out every day and try to be happy. The second one would be starting at university and doing well in the first two semesters. The third is being okay with me.I’ve had so many mental health issues as an adult but I can finally say that I’m happy 80 percent of the time, which is pretty cool. What has been your biggest challenge? I’ve faced several challenges. One was trying to raise children without all the nasty judgements, without the world on their shoulders and to give them a fresh start. The second was when I was told in hospital that my body is dying and I couldn’t walk or talk. And, to naturally get the strength to overcome that and go to university and do what I do has been incredibly fulfilling. The biggest challenge has been living, because it’s so easy to die. What are your hopes for the future? That the world never gives up on hope, and that we will one day understand the power of empathy and that it is worth a lot more than money.
What is special about your country?
For me personally, growing up in a country town, it’s the understanding that we all come from a different place and we can do a little bit better. This is what makes Australia special. It’s also the humour. Australians have a good sense of humour, and I love that. You can have a bad day and go to bed all sad and depressed, or you could have a little bit of a bad day, put a little spin on it and carry on. How has selling The Big Issue Australia changed your life? Before I started selling The Big Issue I was very different. I was very closed in, frightened and scared. I didn’t think I was a very good person and people scared me. People can be nasty with each other, because they don’t understand what their words can do to others. I just locked myself away. The Big Issue, the staff, and the lovely customers down at Pyrmont have shown me that there is unity in community; and that gives me strength to carry on. I can’t put it in words because The Big Issue is life to me.
Interview by Sam Clark
What has been your biggest achievement? I learnt to save money, stay organised, and take care of my bills. Back in the day, I didn’t do that, I would just spend, spend and spend. Now I put money away daily to save for a rainy day. What has been your biggest challenge? This cold weather! It gives you nightmares. Once you get yourself settled, it’s not too bad. What are your hopes for the future? I want to find a full-time job. I don’t think I will be able to sell StreetWise too much longer because I am getting up there in age. Maybe in security or maintenance, as long as it doesn’t kill me. I also worry that at my age, there aren’t too many jobs around. What is special about the US?
I learnt to save money, stay organised, and take care of my bills. Back in the day, I didn’t do that, I would just spend, spend and spend. Now I put money away daily to save for a rainy day. What has been your biggest challenge? This cold weather! It gives you nightmares. Once you get yourself settled, it’s not too bad. What are your hopes for the future? I want to find a full-time job. I don’t think I will be able to sell StreetWise too much longer because I am getting up there in age. Maybe in security or maintenance, as long as it doesn’t kill me. I also worry that at my age, there aren’t too many jobs around. What is special about the US?
It’s the land of the free. Some other countries have no freedom. In Russia, for example, the president controls everything. But here it is a free country and you can do anything, relax. I also feel safe and secure, with our military taking care of business. I have no problems right now. Even the president, it’s okay, I’ll give him a chance. Everybody deserves a chance, right? I don’t get into politics, but they put him in there, and we will find out. He is a businessman, not a Democrat or Republican.
How has selling StreetWise changed your life?
It changed a lot. I can pay my bills and budget money, like I said before. I get to do more. I don’t have time to be out on the street messing around. I get up in the morning at 5am, and I am at my location at 6:30. It made me more responsible and my life has more structure. When I was younger, I got out of the Marine Corps, and I had all of this money. I had no idea how to save
money, and I just went right through it. I feel a lot better now.
Interview by Dave Hamilton
Courtesy of INSP. ngo/The Big Issue Australia.
Photographs: Zhong Yuan, Peter Holcroft, Dave Hamilton,
Freepik.Com; Words: International Network 0f Street Papers