On February 15, some of our volunteers participated in “vendors for an hour”, a call for action that the street paper Shedia organizes each year in February. They sold the magazine together with Vaggelis, a seller of Shedia magazine over the past two years.
Don’t you know what a street paper is?
A street paper is not like any other journal, sold in stores and shops, but you can only buy it on the streets. Selling this street paper are people with disadvantages that experienced poverty and marginalization. They are homeless, unemployed, invisible people who by becoming street sellers have the opportunity to earn some money and get out of the predicament they are in, but mostly they have the chance to no longer be invisible. They wear their distinctive colorful vest, and in the streets of their city they sell the magazine to their fellow citizens. All this happens in 35 countries worldwide, supported by the International Network of Street Papers (INSP). The magazines are written in 25 different languages, and more than 5.000 vendors changed their life thanks to all this!
Shedia is the only street paper released in Greece, born in the city of Athens in 2013 and distributed in Thessaloniki since 2014. It is published every last Wednesday of the month. The name of the Greek street paper means literally “raft”, and that’s what Shedia is trying to be for his vendors, a grasp to hold on to in difficult times.
It’s not just charity but they are given a dignified job that is not just supposed to help them economically but personally and psychologically. The last goal is not to work for Shedia permanently, but to go back to society as renewed women and men, empowered and independent. In a nutshell, the aim is to give these people an opportunity to enhance their future by themselves.
People are the center of all those activities that fortify their self-respect and dignity. As Shedia declares on its website: “Shedia is not a form of begging. Vendors do not beg but sell with dignity a street paper they have previously bought themselves”. In Greece it is possible to buy this magazine for only 4 euros of which 2.50 go directly to the seller, being his income from the distribution.
Sellers for an hour for the street paper Shedia
Some of the volunteers of Balkan hotspot participated in the action “seller for an hour” and, as volunteers for the Shedia magazine, we sold the paper in the streets of Thessaloniki. The purpose of it is to give anyone the opportunity to wear the vest of its vendors and, most importantly, to let as many people as possible know about this independent publication, which helps people, economically and psychologically, experiencing poverty and other forms of social exclusion.
Meet a seller of Shedia
During this experience, we met Vaggelis, seller for Shedia since two years. He was unemployed and needed a job to meet all his financial responsibilities, he started selling the street paper to earn some money to pay his rent, but he gained more. There is some optimism coming from all those people approaching him with a smile to buy the magazine. He said that many people are trying to help, and he feels that they want to support each other during this difficult time. He can see that when he recognizes the face of a regular customer who buys the paper every month or when someone buys the magazine from him even if they already bought it from someone else.
However, it is not just a matter of helping, he says. People seem to like the magazine, which includes social issues, history, geography, interviews with relevant people, and many other topics. He thinks the paper is substantial in its content and also informative, so people like to read it.
Something that stood out to me while talking to Vaggelis is the connection he created with the paper he sells. He told us that he was not born in Greece, but comes from the village of Derviçan in Albania, his mother tongue is Greek, and he lived in Greece most of his life. However, he doesn’t feel like he is from one or the other country but both. And what he got from Shedia is that its aim is to unite people, because we are all the same, people sharing the same world beside their country of origin and life conditions. He thinks that hope is something that is possible to find in the pages of Shedia, and in all the street papers around the world I would add.
Support people to support themselves, go find your country’s street paper here!
Greek street paper campaign
Take also a look to the Balkan hotspot magazine