Sang sells Megaphone in front of the BC Liquor Store at Menzies and Toronto Street in Victoria’s James Bay neighbourhood.
Sang's on a mission to help his family
“I came here from my home country a long time ago. For 40 years, I didn’t see my family. I didn’t have contact, basically. I was in Quebec for a while. I moved to Alberta for a while. And I’ve got serious problem with my leg, so I was not able to work. Then I moved to British Columbia because the weather is warmer here and the medical system is better. I’ve been in Victoria about six years.
“[Before I started selling Megaphone],I was not working. I have some disability problems. But I met a fellow—his name is John, and he sells [Megaphone] papers in front of the Bay on Douglas Street. I talked to him. I said, ‘I’m looking for work, I have disability problems.’ So he started talking to me about [Megaphone]. He introduced me to it, and he brought me here [to the Victoria Disability Resource Centre to start vendor training].
“I’ve been selling Megaphone for a few months. I sell in front of the liquor store right now in James Bay. I’ve got a lot of regular customers. They ask me all the time, “When’s the next one? When’s the next one?” They like the magazine and I sell a few of the [Voices of the Street] books. They liked that, too.
“Mainly, people buy this paper because of compassion. Some people, they really understand, you know? I tell them, ‘Make sure not to throw it in the garbage! Read that paper when you buy from me!’ They say, ‘Oh, I get a bunch of flyers.’ I say, ‘This is not a flyer!’ Most come back and see me again. They say, “Oh, it was very good. Very interesting stories there.”
“After 40 years of not having contact with my family, I recently got in contact again. I got Facebook. I checked Facebook and I found one person from that area, the rural region of Afghanistan where my familyis from. He’s an engineer. So eventually I got in contact with him. I introduced myself. I said, ‘That’s my brother. Theseare my parents.’ Technology’s a really amazing thing. It changes people’s lives.
“After 40 years, my mother, the people that are close to me, most of them have passed away. I have one brother left, one sister, one uncle. And they have children. My sister, she was crying for an hour [when she finally heard from me]. She said, ‘Oh, we thought you were dead already! Did you come back to life?’
“They are in a rural region of Afghanistan in the mountains. There’s no Internet or anything. They call sometimes. They told me they are building a hospital there. Basically they don’t have any medical supplies or anything. There are kids there dying of simple diseases, people without legs. They asked if I have a contact in Canada with a non-profit agency. I found a place where they donate their old medical equipment or medicine or supplies. The problem is that $20,000 is needed to ship equipment overseas.
“I’m trying to help them. That’s my main goal right now. I also have to deal with my own medical issues here. I’m in recovery right now. But I’d like people to know that I’m trying to help my family in Afghanistan [to build a hospital]. If I succeed at that I will be very happy. If not, I’m going to keep trying.”