Our vendors: Magdalena (Augustin, Baden, Austria)

I have a few contacts in Vienna who explained to me a few years ago that Augustin was taking new vendors again.

I live predominantly in Vienna now, in a shared flat, but I only sell Augustin in Baden outside supermarkets. I travel there early in the morning and stand at the first place until just before midday. Business is really slow there. At lunchtime the pitches at two other supermarkets become free because my colleagues don’t stay through the afternoon. So I relieve them, so to speak.

In Pitești (around 150,000 citizens, approximately 120 kilometres west of Bucharest), my hometown, I have no chance of finding work. My two daughters still live there. They are already grown up, the younger one is 16, the eldest is 20 and has a child of her own, so I’m a grandmother. I often go back for a few days to give my daughters money but also to have treatment for my back problem.

Photo credit: Ruth Weisman

In Romania, I don’t receive a minimum income because the associated conditions are unachievable and unacceptable. Either I get divorced – I am separated from my husband – or I have to take on a voluntary job in the community. The first would cost me around 300 Euros. A sum of money I can’t come up with. The second would mean working five to six hours a day for the local council and being paid around 50 Euros per month. [The guaranteed minimum income is also a supplement to the net income in Romania, but unlike Austria, at the instigation of the community it may be necessary to perform “charitable” work. In a month, for a single person, the supplementary benefit amounts to a maximum of 30 euros or, for example, a maximum of 95 euros for a family of four. There is also child benefit, which is paid monthly in Romania: for the first two years of life around 43 Euros, then up to the age of 18 about 18 Euros.]

I don’t have a choice other than to look for work here. I can imagine doing cleaning or kitchen work if there wasn’t such a language barrier. It’s good that I am starting to understand a bit of German now. At the start it was very difficult for me in Vienna, especially because I didn’t like the food. The tomatoes you get in the supermarket here are tragic. In Pitești, I always did my food shopping at the market.

Translated from German by Nastassja Thomas