A native to Seattle and a Real Change vendor who sells at the Safeway at 87th and Greenwood.
My name is Jamie Tilton. I was born in Seattle. I am half Norwegian and a quarter English and Swedish. I suffer from systemic juvenile rheumatory arthritis, diagnosed at age 10. Children’s Orthopedic Hospital saved my life and prevented me from being in a wheelchair. I was homeless for over six and a half years because of domestic violence.
I am so glad Tom Carlsen introduced me to Real Change. Real Change gave me something positive to do during what I call the darkest years of my life. I consider Real Change like my family.
I am truly blessed. I recently experienced a miracle. For three days, I almost died. I was the most ill I have ever been in my life. I woke up the following day in remission from severe joint and bone damage in my feet. I plan to have surgery on all of my toes. I believe this will take away a lot of pain.
I have been living in mostly low-level pain since being homeless. I have always lived with level-five pain. Any stress or if I overdo it, I am at level-10 pain. Illness has affected my entire body except my brain, liver and hips.
I have been thanking God every day. It truly is a miracle. I am now the happiest and healthiest I have ever been in my life.
I am in Section 8 housing now. I thank so many people from Compass Alliance for that. I want to thank Upper Crust Catering company for providing me excellent meals and being run by kind people. I thank my wonderful customers at the Safeway on 87th and Greenwood. I thank Safeway and Safeway employees who always provide excellent customer service.
Thank you all and have the best year ever. Bless you all!
A proud Aboriginal man from Wurundjeri country who has been selling The Big Issue Australia in Melbourne for 21 years.
My most memorable moment of 2017 was taking part in the Aboriginal march on “Invasion Day,” that’s Australia Day (Jan. 26), down the main streets of Melbourne’s central business district. I met one of my cousins, who’s Aboriginal, and I’ve never met him before. And I’m starting to meet other cousins and making connections. It was a proud moment walking down Bourke Street; you’ve got 10,000 people around you.
I’m hoping the Referendum (for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recognition in the Australian Constitution) will be held.* I’m Wurundjeri born. This is my people’s country, this is my country, and I don’t understand why we haven’t got it yet. We can sit down with the government and decide. They can have their say, we can have our say, and we can compromise. And we both agree. And then it’s fair.
*Editor’s note: As it stands, the Australian Constitution, the nation’s founding document, makes no mention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Constitution can only be changed through a referendum — a national vote by all Australians.
A Big Issue Taiwan vendor, who has been selling the magazine since 2011. His pitch is located outside Dongmen metro station in Taipei. He became homeless owing to an occupational injury, and his wife and two daughters left him afterward. After living on the streets for several years, he joined The Big Issue Taiwan as a vendor and is now renting a small apartment on his own.
The biggest moment of 2017 for me was when one of the Big Issue Taiwan team responsible for distribution left her job because of her marriage and career plan. I feel a bit sad because we’ve known each other for quite a long time. She treats me as if I was her family member, and her age is just the same as my daughter’s age.
My biggest achievement was that I once sold more than 300 magazines a day and that made me feel very excited and proud.
My selling amount has dropped 60 percent this year, so right now every day is just like a challenge for me. I kept thinking about how to solve this condition. Even though I stand under the scorching sun for such a long time, nothing has changed still. Despite this, nothing has really come as a surprise this past year.
I’m getting older and older now, and I only hope for a good health and stable selling.
To be frank, I didn’t obviously feel accomplishment in this position, but at least the job makes me feel like a normal person. I don’t have to sleep on the street and cover my face anymore.
A Denver Voice vendor.
Celebrating my birthday this year was what was most memorable for me, but reaching out to people in the local community to talk about their needs is certainly my biggest achievement. My job selling the Denver Voice helps me to connect to people.
I was on two waiting lists for apartments and still did not get either of them. There’s too much run-around.
Paying for my storage space has been a challenge. They put a lien on it, then they overcharged me. I was able to keep it after struggling to get it back. God is good!
In the new year I’m looking forward to not living on the streets anymore. There’s too much drama. But it’s over!
Gustavo Alberto Maciel Martínez
A Factor S vendor in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The most memorable moment in 2017 was going back home for two months, seeing my mother and knowing that she’s well. It was also getting near my birthday and spending it at home and with my mother was really good.
I am most proud of overcoming my fears. I felt very alone, and I was really losing hope. Now, thanks to a lot of people that helped me, I’m excited to continue bettering myself. I am no longer afraid.
I am surprised that humanity still has a chance (laughs). Meaning that last year and part of this one I happened to meet people who helped me a lot, and I started to connect with society again. Because of this I think that so long as there are people who think of others, humanity has a chance.
Starting my education again and going back to work as a sailor was a challenge this year.
In the new year, I am most looking forward to going home. Definitely.
A L’Itinéraire vendor in Montréal, Canada.
During the municipal election campaign in September, I did an interview, along with two other vendors, with the mayor of Montréal, Denis Coderre, and the head of the opposition party, Valerie Plante. This is my most memorable moment of 2017. It was the first time I had ever been to the mayor’s office. I felt like Elvis Presley when he visited Richard Nixon at the White House. It was quite an honor for me! I was pleased to learn that low-cost housing was an important issue for both candidates.
Also, I was really touched by the present the mayor gave me: a Montréal Expos baseball cap. The team was sold and left the city in 2004. Like the mayor I would like to see the return of a professional baseball team in Montréal.
I was invited to perform at L’Itinéraire’s Christmas party last year, and I sang with real musicians from the group L’Itinérock (the band members were part of the staff). I am an Elvis impersonator and I sang “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” and “Suspicious Minds.”
My goal for the coming year is to be admitted to the Québec Artists Union as an impersonator and actor.
I also faced some challenges this year: The death of my friend and co-vendor Élisabèthe at 61 years-old. She was in the process of having a sex-change operation to become a woman. I tried to encourage her, as her family had rejected her. I went to a service where she was commemorated along with a hundred other people whose remains were never claimed. I cried a lot.
I wish all the vendors of the world the courage to not get discouraged. The courage to improve your life. I wish that all people would take each other by the hand.
Wait, there's more. Check out the full January 3rd issue.