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Our vendors: Zoran (Kupfermuckn, Linz, Austria)

By Heinz Zauner, Kupfermuckn 

Zoran, 37, is originally from Serbia. He came to Linz when he was six, with his mother who fled his violent father with her two children. It was a time when integration was not on the political agenda.

However, his mother had spent her childhood in Austria, so they already spoke good German. “Still, I didn’t feel comfortable at school as a foreigner and I was bullied. They called me deformed because of being fat,” says Zoran.

Like many children from a migrant background, he ended up in what was then the Sonderschule, or special needs school.

Zoran in the 2016 Kupfermuckn calendar. Photo: Heinz Zauner

“After school I began an apprenticeship as a carpenter but I dropped out, and after that I only got work now and again,” Zoran continues. “When I was 18 I went back to Serbia and into the army, working in supplies. Eleven months on I started getting big mental problems and at the end of that time I returned to Austria.”

Zoran doesn’t want to say any more about that time.

“A few years later I received the disability pension because I could no longer work due to my illness.”

Zoran slept rough for three years but later found support from Catholic charity Caritas and street paper Kupfermuckn. “I slept partly at the emergency shelter and often in the old abandoned carriages at the Hauptbahnhof [Linz Central Station],” he remembers.

Zoran in the Kupfermuckn office. Photo: Heinz Zauner

“In the end I came across the Caritas project Invita, who’ve given me mobile support ever since.”

Kupfermuckn has meant a lot to Zoran in his time as a vendor. He is always to be seen around town with his Kupfermuckn bag. The name Zoran means “daybreak” and in fact this early riser is usually at the door at 8 o’clock when Kupfermuckn opens its doors.

“Kupfermuckn is like my family,” he says. “Now I’ve been selling the street paper Kupfermuckn for 14 years and I write poems for the paper.  I like to go to the vendors’ café, and my favourite spot to sell the paper is the Bischofstraße [a shopping street in central Linz].

“I’d like to stay with Kupfermuckn until I am old and grey. I was so happy to see that I’m pictured in the Kupfermuckn calendar for July 2016 at the Schlossberg [top image]. It’s my favourite place in Linz. In the background you can see the Pöstlingberg church, the symbol of this city.”

Zoran in his flat. Photo: Heinz Zauner

Selling the street paper allows Zoran to not only provide for the essentials, but also enjoy his favourite hobby.

“The money I earn from sales is for food and for my computer games,” he explains. “RuneScape, World of Warcraft and Minecraft are my favourites and I’m in touch with other players via the internet.”

Looking to the future, Zoran’s hopes are altruistic. “My wish for the future is peace in this world, because I experienced first hand how horrible war is.”

Come back each Wednesday to read more vendor stories from INSP’s global network.

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