With my blue bicycle
Letter to Friends around the World # 95

Necessity forces you to get out of the house, when you have no other choice. I would like to wake up every morning and go to a regular work place. Before I used to work and I enjoyed that lifestyle of security and a regular income every month.

It allowed me to have a more comfortable lifestyle, to eat out with my wife, do the shopping etc, but now with the recession, it's harder to find work. I am able to claim a benefit but can't manage to live on it. I have to go out of the house to find enough money for food, or for things for the house. Collecting scrap metal provides work for a lot of people nowadays.

I use my bike as I live quite faraway from everything and there is no rubbish dump in my village. If I go with a cart it is very slow. With the bike I manage to do more and to get home to spend time with my children. This lifestyle is very hard, as some days I can find enough to allow us to buy things for the house, milk or meat, etc, but other days, I earn 3 Euros, and have no money to take home. It's hard physical work and tiring, working with the metal, but I put up with it. It's difficult to live like this, with little means, and not harming anyone.

Some days it's so desperate that you don't feel like living any more. Because you're really in desperate situation and you don't find anything. There are people who insult you and who antagonise you, it makes it more difficult and makes life harder.

When people insult me I try not to reply, to not turn around. I continue on my way. It's a waste of time replying. One day I was on my bike and a person blocked my way with their car. If I was physically attacked, how would I manage to feed my children? Sometimes it's the other way around. Once I had cut my hand and a man stopped and gave me a tissue and looked after the wound. It's a glimmer of hope when people who don't know you understand and approach you and help you, but not financially.

That motivates me and makes the day a better one. When I come home after a day where I didn't earn anything, it is very hard. Nothing is certain. You have to go at the right time, when people are throwing something out for you to find. It is a matter of luck. We need more opportunities for everyone. I don't know how to read but I have other qualities which the companies I've worked for have appreciated.

Antonio J., Spain