Our vendors: Tommaso (Scarp de’ tenis, Milan, Italy)

By Tommaso Cascarino, Scarp de’ tenis

My name is Tommaso Cascarino. I am 45 years old, and for the past 10 years, thanks to Antonio (Mininni, street editorial staff manager, editor’s note) and selling Scarp de’ tenis, I have been able to survive and see the light again after many dark years. The same is true for my brother, Giovanni (38).

Our lives have always been in sync: we started selling fruit and vegetables together in Caserta, but the work was increasingly scarce, so we moved to Switzerland, then to Germany and then we finally returned to Italy.

And here began a painful descent. Without work and without a house, my brother and I ended up at the shelter on viale Ortles, then at the one on Fratel Ettore. We even slept at the train station.

Only recently, we have been living at our mother’s house in Varese. She receives the minimum pension, is 68 years old, and has many ailments, but at least we have a roof over our heads, even if we would like to have our own house. I even tried working in a co-operative store in Milan, but that also failed and I once again found myself out of work.

With the commitment of selling Scarp de’ tenis in squares outside of churches, we are able to have a dignified life and make sure that our mother has everything she needs since 200 euros of her 480 euros of pension per month go to expenses. The experience of living in shelters was mortifying and difficult for us; we were used to always working and having our independence.

Now that we have lifted ourselves up again, it is the right time to be able to go back to having independent work. The desire to work is not what is lacking. I would like to sell fruit and vegetables, but you have to have a license and a refrigerator. Just thinking about it is a utopia for now. My dream is normalcy: a house and a secure job to make it to the end of the month without stress.

Scarp is definitely helping me a lot. It has given me back my dignity. I am able to eat every day. I haven’t been back to Caserta for ten years; I would like to return. I always had a girlfriend and now I have been alone for years. Who knows…

Translated from Italian by kmkamm / Translators Without Borders