David Jankovic has been working as a Liceulice vendor for 10 years. During that time, he has won the hearts of readers with his cheerful spirit and friendly manner. Liceulice helped him stay optimistic during the difficult nine years in the shelter for the homeless. Luckily, the situation for David is changing, and he is making plans to return home soon.
By Milica Terzić
I had a lovely childhood; I travelled and visited most of Croatia. I finished Hospitality secondary school, and I took on my first job, as a burger seller, whilst I was still in secondary school. My mother used to ask me why I was working whilst I was still in a school; I told her that I had to experience what it felt like to work and study. It was hard, but it’s also wonderful when you earn your own money. I was always careful with money; I bought cassettes and VHS. I loved music, and I went to KST [a students’ club]. At one point, we sold the flat we had and bought a house in the Belgrade suburbs, but the money was spent quickly – and that’s where the problems started. We had no money left to pay the bills, so we were forced to leave the house and split up the family: I moved into a shelter and my mother moved into a care home.
I heard about Liceulice while I was in the home, when two young girls asked me if I wanted to sell the magazine. I didn’t even know what it was about until a friend encouraged me to try working as a vendor. I have been selling Liceulice since 2011. Things went really well when I started out; I would just walk around the city and sell copies. Later on, I asked a friend of mine called Marko if he wanted to start selling the magazine with me too, so we positioned ourselves near Dom Omladine [a youth center], where we have remained to this day.
The city has changed a lot during the last ten years. People have changed too, and now everyone knows about Liceulice. I have my regular customers. Whenever I’m gone for a while, everyone asks about me straight away. I remember a time when a little seven-year-old came to me and begged his grandmother to buy him the magazine. Things like that gave me strength to continue trying, especially during those nine years I spent in the homeless shelter.
There were all sorts of people in the shelter – various characters and various situations. I didn’t really like that I had to be there. I stayed for a very long time because I didn’t have a legal guardian and I was considered unfit for work. Everyone rejected me – both me and my mother. The worst thing was that no one ever rang us. No friends or family. It was always me ringing, and I never asked for any help. The pandemic was hard too. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wasn’t allowed to visit my mother. The people working there found it strange I wasn’t coming to see her; they were used to my visits! Now I go once a week.
I am currently in the care home myself. It’s better than in the shelter: I’m friends with everyone and the food is better. I am hoping I will get my work permit soon. I would love to get a different job, although I won’t give up on selling the magazine. Liceulice was the wind at my back; it gave me the strength to continue. There is even a chance of us going back to our house soon. I am really looking forward to it. I can earn a decent wage, and my mother is receiving a pension too. We have a really nice relationship and are ready to go back to our house and live a normal life. We are planning to go back there, renovate the house a bit and then sell it in order to buy a new one, hopefully a bit closer to town.
Small things motivate me. I have a few interests. In the mornings I go to visit my mum, and later on I sell the magazine. Every morning I get up early in order to work and earn enough to buy an ice-cream in the summer or a drink. I receive a small amount of money from the government. I managed to buy trousers and a T-shirt with it. I have started saving to buy a phone too. Now I have a Facebook profile too. I’ve found some secondary school friends on there, so we keep in touch. I like sitting down every now and then and reading the messages. That makes me happy. I watch boxing and skateboarding on my phone.
I have had a lot of nice moments in my life. I had a girlfriend in the shelter – she kissed me first! I was surprised, but she told me I was a good person and that she loved me because of it. She also told me I was her boyfriend and I agreed. We are friends now, but we are saving money together, and we enjoy buying a burger together. As soon as the house is ready, I want to find a wife – first to date and then, if she is willing, to get married too.
You don’t need any form of luxury to make your life beautiful, but small things. I would like to have a shelf full of books when I have a house. That’s where true wealth is. Because of all of this, I can say I am a happy man.
Translated from Serbian by Natasa Knighton
Courtesy of Liceulice / INSP.ngo