Our vendors: Mimmo Capuozzo (Scarp de’ tenis, Naples, Italy)

By Marta Capuozzo, Scarp de’ tenis

49-year-old editor and vendor Mimmo Capuozzo is a long-standing member of the Scarp Naples team, who likes taking an active part in all the group’s activities – from cooking to creative writing workshops.

He first heard about the project in 2001 and joined up for while, although his time with the paper suffered a one-year interruption after an encounter with law enforcement. Mimmo is open about spending time in Poggioreale jail from 2005 to 2006.

After serving his sentence, he decided to go back to the place where he says he “felt something good”. That feeling drove him to engage again with the Scarp team, and the other formerly homeless vendors. “Scarp was my way out.”

A lot has happened since then, and Mimmo could not feel more different from the person he was in the very first years as street editor. “Ten years ago I felt confused, like I was always sailing in circles,” he recalls. “I was looking for a way out, but I kept falling back in that same circular path.”

During the intervening years, Mimmo encountered many turning points that changed his life and enabled him to chart a new course. The one he likes to recall as most important is a lesson learned from Herman Hesse’s masterpiece Siddhartha. He found the novel in the Scarp library and it had a profound impact on him.

“Once [Siddartha] was asked what was he able to do and he answered, ‘I can think. I can wait. I can fast’. That made me think and helped me a lot. Learning to be patient and winning things makes you appreciate them much more.

“Patience helped me – and still does – to set a good example for my family, so that I can be really there for them, and prevent them from losing the course with me.”

His new family is thanks in part to Scarp, too. Mimmo lives with his girlfriend Maria, who also sells the street paper, and her two children. He looks at the future with renewed hope and awareness. “I want to get back into play, working with people. I want to devote myself to others.”