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„Pages of hope“
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Just three quarters of a year ago, Hinz&Künztler Chamkauer was sleeping outside. “It was a hard time,” says the Indian, who speaks a mix of German and English. He says another homeless man finally brought Hinz&Kunzt to his attention. A stroke of luck. “I love my work,” Chamkauer says, smiling.
He pulls out his phone, swipes across the screen and starts a video he made himself. The camera pans across a supermarket parking lot. “There’s food there. Berliner here,” Chamkauer says, pointing excitedly at two food trucks. Now you can see the supermarket. Chamkauer stops the video, zooms in and points his finger at the entrance. “And that’s my spot,” the 43-year-old says. His voice sounds as proud as if he were showing off a new car.
What the Hinz & Künztler presents there is even better. Selling the magazines has opened doors for him, as he struggled to get by with occasional jobs in restaurants. Before that, Chamkauer always ended up on the street when he didn’t get paid. He never had an employment contract.
He now regularly earns money by selling the magazine. Not much, but he can afford to pay a small room. If there is any money left over, Chamkauer sends it to his family. His wife and his now eleven-year-old son live in the border region of Pakistan. A “powder keg” according to the Federal Office for Migration. Combat between the military and separatists is a daily occurrence, confirms Chamkauer, who belongs to the Sikh religious minority. He says the government is responding with curfews and roadblocks. “It’s a big problem,” Chamkauer says. As a farmer, he said, he could no longer sell his produce. Sometimes, he says, they lived only on what grew in front of the house. “Eating, finish,” Chamkauer says, illustrating with an arm motion how he lived from hand to mouth.
That’s why his hope five years ago was Europe. His mother and brother are now taking care of the family, says the Hinz&Künztler, who can only keep in touch with his homeland by mail. One consequence of the ongoing border conflict is that the government has cut internet and telephone lines in order to block the communication channels of the separatists in the region.
It wouldn’t have taken much for Chamkauer’s dream of a better life to be shattered on Hamburg’s streets. That was very hard on him, he says. Thanks to Hinz&Kunzt, he now has new hope. He also hopes to be allowed to stay in Germany in the long term. However, so far he only has a temporary residence permit. His chances of getting the right to stay are slim. Nevertheless, Chamkauer is confident. His wish: “I would like to bring my wife and son to Germany,” he says, his face beaming.
Chamkauer sells Hinz&Kunzt in Steilshoop.
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Text: Jonas Füllner
Foto: Mauricio Bustamante