I started selling The Big Issue in February last year. It has changed me, I am a changed person.

I was born in Adelaide in 2000. In my family are two brothers, my mum and dad, and I have a big extended family. My mum is Greek, and we grew up following Greek traditions like Greek Easter. My parents separated when I was five or six. It made me feel pretty upset.

I had a good childhood, until I was old enough to go to school, that’s when things changed. I feel like my parents treated me different to my brothers, because I have disabilities. I was always told I have a learning difficulty. I was placed in a special education class. The school treated me like I was never going to go anywhere in my life. They treated me as if I was less than the other children. And the other kids would bully me constantly.

At age 18 I left school and I felt worthless. My family thought I couldn’t work. Mum did everything for me. It was like Groundhog Day, the same thing over and over and over. I got a job at a pizza shop. I didn’t like it though. I did one thing wrong, then he says, “You’re gone”. It was not easy trying to find a job after that. I didn’t really do much as I got little money. My dreams were just that, dreams. I wanted more in my life, I wanted to be like everyone else. I felt a great sadness.

I got kicked out of home two years ago, and I moved in with my boyfriend. Since not being at home, I’ve been totally different. My boyfriend has started to teach me maths, English, spelling – things I was told I would never understand. He uses The Big Issue to teach me reading and comprehension.

I started selling The Big Issue in February last year. It has changed me, I am a changed person. I do the same as everyone else now, and that’s all I ever wanted in life. I am making money now and saving for things I want. I want to go on a holiday somewhere hot in Australia. And now that I have my learner’s permit, I am saving for a car that is big enough for my dog and two cats. I also want to study a Certificate in Disability.

In my free time, I like gaming. My favourite games are Minecraft and Forza Horizon 5 (I love car racing!). I met my boyfriend playing Xbox. He lived in Brisbane, and I’m in Adelaide. After a while, I noticed I had feelings for him, but I did not feel as if anyone could feel the same about me. Eventually it happened: we had this awkward conversation, and it turned out he was just like me – afraid that I would not like him. We eventually exchanged pictures and not only was he a nice guy, he was smoking hot, too.

It has now been three years since he moved 2000km to be with me. We live together, we have a two-year-old Staffy called Luna, two cats, sea snails and fish. I still wonder how this could happen to me. I tell him I feel lucky to have him, and he says the same thing every time: “It’s not luck, it’s love.”

Angelica sells The Big Issue in Blackwood, and Goodwood and Mitcham, Adelaide.

Interview by Ashley Snell
Photo by Nat Rogers