Our vendors: Reghina (Asphalt, Hannover, Germany)

Interview by Svea Kohl, Asphalt

Reghina sells Asphalt in front of Aldi on the Bürgerstrasse in the district of List in Hannover. The city is currently playing host to this year’s Global Street Paper Summit.

Reghina, you are not originally from Germany. How long have you been living here?

Five years. I lived in Cologne for one year. I have been in Hannover for four years.

So you didn’t like Cologne that much?

The work there is bad. I did not find any. Here I found one. I have a mini job. I am a cleaner. But I don’t do as many hours as I’d like. And I’ve sold Asphalt for three years now. I enjoy doing this. So I can make some money and speak to people. I need to. Otherwise I am lonely and sad. When I am on my pitch, the people are very nice to me. I like it very much!

What is your home country?


Had you lived there until five years ago?

No. I’d lived in the Czech Republic for a long time. In Brno. From 1992 to 2013. I liked it there a lot. I speak perfect Czech. I still have to learn German. This takes a while. I’d worked as a guide in a museum in Brno for ten years – in the Museum of Roma Culture. It was very nice. I was chatting a lot to people. My boss was also happy with me, but I earned so little! I could not stay there. It was simply not enough money to live on. I had enough money to come to Germany to look for work. Now my boss has called, asking me to come back. But I said, I’m sorry, I don’t earn enough money. So, here I am.

Credit: Svea Kohl

Do you have a family?

I have four children. They are already grown-up. Two boys and two girls – the girls are twins. I used to have a husband, too. We were together for 25 years. He had another wife then. I did not want to stay with him. Since 2003, we have been separated. Now I’m alone.

Your children grew up in the Czech Republic?

Yes, they were still small and went to school there.

Did they stay in the Czech Republic? Or where do they live now?

One lives in Cologne. I stayed with him when I moved to Germany. Another one lives in Romania and the twins stayed in the Czech Republic. They are already 39, 37 and 35 years old.

Do you see them often?

No, unfortunately not. I don’t have the money, but we write each other and talk on the phone. They already have their own families. I have seven grandchildren.

How do you live here?

I live in a women’s home and share a room with a woman from Iraq. It’s good. We can live together in peace. Before that, I lived with other women. They were difficult. They took drugs and drank. I do not do that! They did not clean, I could not sleep in peace … I would like to live in my own small apartment.

Credit: Svea Kohl

Do you miss your homeland?

Life there wasn’t good: A small apartment, and many children. I have seven sisters and five brothers. Together we are 13! My father died when I was seven. My mother has been dead for 20 years. In Romania, we had big problems with discrimination. We are Sinti, Roma. We received political asylum in the Czech Republic. It was very nice! In the Czech Republic and Germany, I had no problems with discrimination.

Would you like to stay here?

I love it here. I feel good. I also want to speak German better. I want to stay in Hannover, but I need to find more work. I’m currently looking for more!

Have you made friends here?

No, but the people who buy Asphalt from me are important to me. We talk, and that’s nice.

What do you want for your future?

No idea. God decides what happens in the future. Today there is rain, tomorrow there will be sun. He decides for me, for all people, for everything! Faith in God is important to me. I just live every day and take what God gives me.

Translated from German by Eva Schueckel