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Dimitra Piagou, 65, selling Shedia in Greece

“Seeing the warmth and appreciation of the world lifts me up, even if I’m not feeling good or I’m hurting”

This week’s vendor, Dimitra Piagou, sells Shedia, a street paper in Greece. Set up as a response to the country’s devastating austerity measures in 2013, Shedia is now part of a network of more than 110 magazines and newspapers in over 35 countries. They have 300 vendors who buy the magazine for €1.50 and sell it for €3.

I was born and raised in Athens. My parents divorced when I was nine months old and I never saw my father. Our first meeting was at my 16th birthday, and our relationship lasted for only one year. He moved to Canada and since then I have no news of him.

I graduated from high school and intended to study philology. I prepared all summer but then breast cancer hit me for the first time. I was only 21 years old. My universe was overthrown.

I slept for a week on benches with my dogs. It was a terrible experience

I didn’t have courage to go on but I had to do something. I got a job in an advertising company, and over seven years got a very high salary but something ate at me. A friend of mine who owned a laundry had a serious accident and asked me to help. After six months, she told me that she met someone and would follow him abroad and that, if I wanted, I could take over the business. I decided to chance it. In three years I changed area and bought a house.

In 1997 I lost my seven-year-old niece, my grandmother and my cousin to cancer, and next year it hit me again, this time my stomach. In 2003, I lost my partner of 23 years to cancer. Since then I have been alone.

The worst year was 2011. The crisis found me and everything changed. The slide was rapid, the mortgage defaulted on the building and I had to auction off brand new machines. A month later I was evicted.

I slept for a week on benches with my dogs. It was a terrible experience. I kept looking for any job but my age has always been an inhibiting factor.

At a metro station I saw a Shedia salesman and, after I bought the magazine, I asked them about it. When I started I was very ashamed. But seeing the warmth and appreciation of the world lifts me up, even if I’m not feeling good or I’m hurting. I learned to be stoic. I would not say that I have become more optimistic. I’m afraid of tomorrow. If something happens with my health, I do not know what to do.

I love the magazine. I feel good. I feel it is mine. The magazine embraces human souls. I believe in it, whatever happens in my life.

Courtesy of Shedia / INSP.ngo

Greece Athens Tours, Pireos, Athens, Greece

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