I was born in Tokat in Turkey. It’s a small, beautiful city and there are many mountains. I have two brothers and a sister. All my family still live in Turkey. I used to play soccer for my city’s football team. I was the goalkeeper. Now I follow the Turkish football league – my team is Galatasaray SK. After college in Tokat, I went to a school in Istanbul to study physiotherapy. I was 22. Istanbul has so much culture; it’s a historical city. I worked as a physiotherapist in places like Dubai, Denmark and Russia. But my certificates are not enough to do physiotherapy in Australia.

I came to Australia with a tourist visa in August 2018 and then became a political refugee. One day I went shopping and saw someone selling the magazine. I asked him if it’s possible for me to do it. I came to The Big Issue office and on the same day I started the job. I felt excited, because in Australia it was my first job. I just worried about my English, but it was not a big problem. Now I’ve been selling The Big Issue for about 10 months. I have two pitches, Paddington and Coorparoo.

I think the customers are special people. Because they know it is not an ordinary magazine. This magazine supports the homeless and at-risk groups. Customers buy with this awareness. I have a large number of regular customers. I love talking to them. In these conversations I learned that a lot of Australians go to Turkey for vacation. I love to hear good things for Turkey and Turkish people.

Before I came here, I didn’t know about Australian people. Now I like Australian people so much. Selling magazines has helped me learn how they think. They are very friendly, so relaxed. They are positive, not negative. For me, the food is difficult in Australia, but I’m trying to get used to it. In Brisbane there are so many good Turkish restaurants.

I’ve also learned about other countries from my customers. For example, I speak to people from Africa and South America and Sri Lanka. Before, I hadn’t met people from these places, but in Brisbane I meet so many and I learn about their cultures. I’m a political man and I like learning about people. My customers are very interesting. I also like to read. I follow the news, not just from Turkey and Australia, but from around the world.

My biggest wish is that everything will be okay soon. Everyone in the world must struggle for the end of wars, for children not to die, for the end of hunger, for peace to come.

Maybe I can do a second job soon. But I’ll never stop selling The Big Issue – because it is my first love in Australia. First loves are very special and never forgotten. The memories and friendships I’ve made with The Big Issue are very meaningful to me. I love all my customers. I pay my respects to everyone. I hope for a more livable and free world.

Adnan sells The Big Issue in Paddington and Coorparoo, Brisbane.


Interview by Amanda Sweeney.

Photo by Barry Street.


First published in The Big Issue edition #640.