2 March 2015

Our vendors: Henrieese Roberts - Street Sense, Maryland, USA

Henrieese Roberts sells American street paper Street Sense on the streets of Annapolis, Maryland. She is also a fierce advocate of HIV/AIDS awareness and policy reform.

Motivated by close personal experiences with friends and family, she began working to raise awareness about public health, sexuality and HIV/AIDS issues nearly 30 years ago.

Street Sense vendor/writer Henrieese Roberts.
"We fear the disease instead of learning how to circumvent it, and be loving to people that do have it," says Henrieese. 

She also writes regularly for Street Sense about these topics, hoping to break down stereotypes and promote understanding of the illness rather than fear.

Having watched HIV/AIDS change the lives of people - damaging their health and presenting challenges in terms of personal privacy, employment and housing - Henrieese is acutely aware that the disease can be crippling for those already living in poverty.

"There are many people that can't afford their medications and are on waiting lists to be treated. There are also a lot of unnecessary deaths," she says.

In 1992, Henrieese herself was diagnosed with histoplasmosis, an infectious disease that has rendered her visually impaired. But she remains optimistic and continues to persevere with her filmmaking and photography career.

"I am going to actualize because I am willing to work hard," she says. 

Through her work she hopes people become more sexually conscious, avoid spreading the disease and reduce the stigma associated with the infection.

This is a summary of an article by Street Sense reporter Jazmine Steele that was published on INSP's News Service. Street paper editors can view, download and republish the full article here. 

27 February 2015

Our vendors: Erdzan Sadik - Lice v Lice, Skopje, Macedonia

"Selling on the street was a bit embarrassing for me at first, so I spoke to customers in a low voice. They didn't hear me, they didn't even stop for a moment, so I realized I was going nowhere,” says Erdzan Sadik, who sells Lice v lice in Skopje, Macedonia.

“Now I know that this is a good and decent job and I had to put more effort into Lice v lice so that both the magazine and I would succeed.”

The 21-year-old now sells more copies of the magazine than any other vendor. “The most important thing is to smile, look people in the eye and show them the magazine cover," he says. "It's easier for me now, because I'm not a rookie anymore. I speak to customers loudly and clearly,".

Erdzan shares his sales tips with his fellow vendors and even encouraged his little brother Armando and his father to sell the magazine too. "When they saw that I leave the house clean and that I come back clean, that I am neither tired, nor upset, and I even had money left, they wanted to do this job too," he says.

Training sessions offered by Lice v lice did more to give Erdzan the skills for selling the magazine, they also encouraged him to continue his education.  He has now finished fifth grade in school. "I know that I have to study and I can promise that I will do everything I can to make that happen," he adds.

Photos by Tomislav Georgiev.

This is a summary of a vendor profile written Lice v lice's Maja Nedelkovska that was published on INSP's News Service. Street paper editors can view, download and republish the full article here.

26 February 2015

To be homeless in a country while war rages

Maryana Sokha explains the struggles Ukrainian street magazine Prosto Neba faces to support its homeless vendors in Lviv while war rages between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukraine government in the east. Based in Western Ukraine, Prosto Neba’s staff and vendors are far from the conflict but, as Maryana writes, “war...touches everybody here.”

“In Ukraine, the homeless have never been a priority. From the 90s until 2006, our state simply ignored them. There was no legislation, no social agencies to offer support and a prevailing, negative attitude inherited from the Soviet era - if you have no job, it means that you don't want to work, so you are not one of us.

During this time, only a few NGOs operated in Ukraine. The situation started to change after new legislation was introduced in 2006. At least one shelter was opened in every major city, but still, there were always too many problems to solve and a constant lack of finances.

In Lviv, a major city in Western Ukraine, our street magazine Prosto Neba was founded in 2008 with support from the NGO Emmaus - Oselya. We have a community house where 25 homeless people live and work together. We started a street paper to inform society about the problem of homelessness and persuade people to change their negative attitude towards homeless people. Our vendors have become our partners in fighting this injustice and quickly became the voice of our organization.

Today we have five vendors. They do not live in the community house but are involved in different projects like food distribution and charity events. They also receive different kinds of social services through our NGO.

Volodymyr Hilenko sells Prosto Neba in Lviv.
One of our "oldest" vendors Volodymyr Hilenko has sold the magazine for five years. He stays in the municipal night shelter and spends the day at his pitch in the city’s main square. People know him by his yellow jacket and constant good mood. For Volodymyr, it is extremely important to be on good terms with his customers and he is very proud of new friends he's made while selling Prosto Neba. He also acts as a guide for tourists, introducing them to the sites and history of Lviv. Above all else, he is now the one that homeless people approach to ask for help and advice.

But now we have a war in Ukraine. It's in another part of the country, but it touches everybody here. Young men are mobilized to go and defend the territory in Eastern Ukraine. During the last few months we have regular planes that bring dead bodies home from there, to be laid to rest at solemn funerals. If they come back alive, they are in the hospital. The whole local community is trying to support them. All the events in our city are charitable now - concerts, fashion shows, marathons, garage sales etc. to collect money for the army or for the treatment of soldiers.

Of course, in this situation we cannot try to put our homelessness issue somewhere high on the priority list. Once again we have more important problems to solve in our country. That would be the official answer on behalf of Ukraine, I guess. The position of our street magazine remains the same - we keep doing our work. Will it help our vendors to move on? I am not sure right now. At least it helps them to survive and stay safe.”

A longer version of this article is available for street paper editors to download and republish from INSP's News Service here.

24 February 2015

Mobile showers offer dignity to San Francisco’s homeless

By Laura Smith 

In San Francisco, a local non-profit is restoring dignity to hundreds of homeless people, one hot shower at a time.

In a city where approximately 7000 people are homeless, there is just a handful of free washing facilities available to those living on the streets.

Lava Mae aims to change that by converting decommissioned city buses into mobile shower units, complete with hot running water and free shower, toilet and changing facilities. 

The project piloted its first bus on the streets of San Francisco in June 2014. It was soon providing between 300 and 500 showers a week to homeless people across the city.

Lava Mae's founder Doniece Sandoval said: "The first time people see the bus, they can't believe it contains showers and toilets. Their reaction is the most rewarding part of the project.

"It's been humbling to have someone thank you profusely for something so simple - something that the rest of us take for granted."

Here's what service user Bobby had to say after his first time on board the Lava Mae bus.

Doniece originally raised $75,000 to fund the first Lava Mae bus through crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

So far, the non-profit has sourced $110,000 through online crowdfunding and received a $100,000 grant from Google as a part of its Bay Area Impact Challenge program. This means they can now start work on creating a second unit.

Doniece aims to eventually have a fleet of four bright blue buses operating across San Francisco. "Once we have four buses on the road, we can offer 50,000 showers per year," she says.

But Lava Mae isn't just about providing hot showers for the homeless. It works on the idea that people experiencing homelessness can't access jobs or housing, or maintain health and well-being, if they can't get clean.

With hygiene comes dignity, and with dignity comes opportunity, says Doniece.

"It's been incredibly rewarding to hear stories of guests lining up job interviews, getting housing and generally improving their lives by being able to get clean on a regular basis.

"It's really amazing what a shower can do and the possibilities it can unlock."

Lava Mae is also starting to offer support and advice to hundreds of organisations that have already shown interest in replicating the project in their own communities, from cities in Santa Clara and Hawaii to Nigeria and South Korea.

For more information visit www.lavamae.org

Photos courtesy of Lava Mae/Sole Moller. This is a summary of an article by Laura Smith for INSP's News Service. You can read the original version here. Street paper editors can click here to view, download and republish the full article.

20 February 2015

Street paper covers February 2015

Check out these amazing street paper covers from around the world this month, including some great #VendorWeek editions.