By Lisa Frei, zebra.
For five years, South Tyrol in northern Italy has had its own street paper. Earlier this month (9 September), the very special 50th issue of zebra. was released. For the occasion the Organisation for World Solidarity (OEW), publisher of the street paper, decided to celebrate in Brixen together with zebra. vendors, numerous volunteers and supporters of the project. Making the event even more special was a zebra. cake, lots of music and a performance by Senegalese artist Moustapha Dieng.
Street paper zebra. has been around for five and a half years, and is now an everyday part of life it in South Tyrol. Beginning as a social project of the OEW, as is the case across the street paper network, it offers the opportunity of a small profit and a dignified occupation to many people in difficult and precarious situations. The content of the paper, for the most part, is the result of the commitment of many volunteers and the project continues to be successful thanks to numerous donations and advertising partners. The main objective of the day’s event was simply to thank and celebrate with all the people who make this project possible every day.
Petru Lefter, a long-time vendor, welcomed all the people who came to Piazza Maria Hueber in Brixen for the occasion. Lefter, after the end of the dictatorship in Romania, left his country due to high unemployment, and for many years worked in the fields of southern Italy. Following an accident, he found himself homeless. For many years now, he has lived in the nearby city of Bolzano and since 2014 has been working as a zebra. vendor.
The mayor of Brixen also joined in the festivities. In his initial greeting, Peter Brunner underlined the great importance of the street paper, through which not only people in marginal situations are supported, but readers are exposed to important issues. “The city of Brixen is proud to support such a project,” said Brunner.
Matthäus Kircher, director of the OEW, emphasised this: “It is one of the elements that has made the zebra. project such a success. The street paper organically creates encounters between different people and, by doing so, it helps to change our society for the better. It is a constant reminder to overcome our prejudices.”
Kircher is also particularly proud of zebra.Support, a parallel project to support its vendors. Since 2017, the project, funded largely by donations, allows the OEW to accompany people engaged in the sale of the street paper towards a stable job, through language courses, job-coaching sessions and individual consultancy. zebra.Support also financially supports sellers in emergency situations.
Many former vendors over the years have found a stable job through this project. In the 50th issue of zebra., three of them tell their story: Happy Ewere is now a kitchen assistant in a restaurant in the town of Verdings; Abdalah works for food company Dr. Schär in Laives; and Stephan Evagelist has been a waiter at African Soul, a restaurant in Merano, for two years.
Once the official greetings were concluded, it was time for cake, and for zebra. vendors and volunteers to unveil the cover of the special edition of the street paper, together with editor-in-chief Lisa Frei and Alessio Giordano, a zebra street worker. The anniversary edition was released in a special format, with a wider circulation. Starting from this issue, the OEW has committed, for the first time in five years, to increase production costs, and so the price of the street paper will increase from two to three euros per copy. As always, and as with any street paper, half of the proceeds will go to the vendors, who will certainly be happy to have a small increase.
The music of the Brissian duo Kieran und Ami was the soundtrack for the celebration, while Moustapha Dieng, an artist and zebra. volunteer illustrator, captured the moment with a live artistic performance. All participants were invited to take part in the performance and look forward to a bright future for the street paper.