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US vendors return: 'Staying home was very hard because I'm alone'

Seattle was one of the first cities in the US to be affected by Covid-19 back in February. After a long lockdown, vendors of the city’s street paper, Real Change, are back. They tell the stories of their return to the streets

Rose Gascon My Pitch International Mark White

Rose Gascon

It’s good that Real Change is open so I can talk to anybody. My customers are very happy but I am not selling every day because I’m afraid of coronavirus. Staying home was very hard because I’m alone.

I’m not staying with my daughter, who brought me here to America. My son-in-law passed away from a heart attack. He stayed in the ICU, and last Monday he passed away. For us, it is very hard because he is the only one helping us, going out, buying something, picking up our prescriptions.

Sometimes I don’t know what God wants. I’m doing my best to pray. But I thank God because in the US I get what I want. I get my citizenship, I have housing, but mostly Real Change was the one who helped me a lot.

Shawn Wilson Real Change My Pitch 1426 Mark White
Shawn Wilson Real Change My Pitch 1426 Mark White
Shawn has been relying on gardening work while he has been unable to sell Real Change

Shawn Wilson

I’ve been able to stay safe. I do what everyone else does, what I’m supposed to do. I keep a mask on, and I keep my distance from everyone. Throughout the virus, I’ve just been worried about my mom, mostly. I’m going home for her birthday. I have my flight booked. I have gotten enormous support from all of the community and my friends. They’ve helped me make some ends meet by doing yard work for some of my customers – several of my customers, as a matter of fact. And they like my work. They’ve helped me more than they’ll ever know.

lisa sawyer Real Change My Pitch 1426 Mark White
lisa sawyer Real Change My Pitch 1426 Mark White
Lisa is relieved to returned to Seattle's streets to sell Real Change after a long lay-off

Lisa Sawyer

I’m happy to be back selling Real Change. It’s really nice to see everybody again, especially us vendors. We haven’t seen each other since the whole virus happened.

For a lot of us who sell Real Change downtown or in other business areas, it’s going to be really tough because most people are not coming back to their actual jobs until next year because of this coronavirus.

I miss socialising with people, talking to my community. I actually just ran into one of my customers who has been wondering about me ever since this virus happened, and she’s happy to see me. She said I look good and have taken good care of myself.

I’ve got a temporary job working at ROOTS, which is a shelter for youth aged 18 to 25. I’m actually their lead sanitation. They’ve been really nice, and they support me. I’m working with one of our old vendor programme managers who offered me the job.

Courtesy of Real Change/INSP.ngo

Images: Mark White

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