Our vendors: Jan (Augustin, Vienna, Austria)

Many people strive to be rich or wealthy, but don’t care about happiness or having good relationships. We live in a community: we are old women, young men, Muslims and Christians. We are all children of God. But I didn’t find God in a Catholic church, which I went to only on a handful of occasions, but by reading the Bible – and the Sermon on the Mount in particular.

I can do without any material possessions. By the way, I am now in need of a new mobile phone after I slept overnight in the woods. After I woke up, I noticed that my mobile was gone. I highly doubt it was the wild boars who took it from me! But I haven’t lost my conscience and that is what is most important to me.

In the year 2000 I became homeless in the Czech town of Olomouc. I used to work at the post office but due to modernisation I was forced to leave. I am also visually impaired to the extent that I am unable to read from a computer screen. I tried working as an accountant, but that didn’t work out.

Photo by Mario Lang

Seven years ago, I came to Austria for the first time. I didn’t understand a word of what people were saying, although I had learned German from my grandfather, who was a Sudeten German [an ethnic German from the Bohemian Crown region that is now part of the Czech Republic]. My daughter lives in the Czech Republic and we sometimes phone one another, but our conversations are limited to saying, “Hello, how are you?” and “Good! Me too, bye!”.

Exactly five years ago, I started selling the magazine Augustin. Then I stopped being a vendor for quite a long time because I was able to work as a kitchen hand. But I ended up losing that job too because of my visual impairment. I wear an artificial lens in my right eye. I am able to go about my day-to-day business, but reading is extremely difficult for me – even with a magnifying glass. I love listening to the radio, especially music and culture programmes.

I get a pension of 400 euros but, in spite of that, my bank account has been blocked. I am having problems with courts in the Czech Republic and for that reason I am looking for a lawyer here in Vienna who is able to speak Czech. In Strasbourg [the seat of the European Court of Human Rights], lawmakers should take a closer look at Czech laws: they are just madness!

I have been selling Augustin again this year from my original point-of-sale in the Auhofcenter [a shopping centre in west Vienna]. I like to say that Augustin is the most famous magazine in the world – especially in the Auhofcenter!

Translated from German by Adam Graham