Saturday, July 20, 2013


Today I would like to write about Raph. Raph (short for Raphael) was Brisbane’s first Big Issue vendor. He started to sell the Big Issue sixteen years ago and has since seen many people come and go, greeted countless passers-by, always tipping his hat, bought a meal for someone in need and didn’t make a fuss about it.

 Raph was always there. I did not know Raph that well, but the many times I saw him on Adelaide Street, near Officeworks, we always said hello. Without exception, Raph was kind, polite, he always seemed to have all the time in the world, he had the elegant manners of times gone by; who still tips their hat nowadays to emphasize their hello and their respect for a fellow human being? Raph did it every time, gracing people with his kindness.

Raph suddenly passed away this past Monday, 15 July 2013. The reactions of those who knew him showed how well he had lived his life, how he touched the lives of others simply by being there the way he was. Raph was a beacon of stability in a world of constant motion, rush and impermanence. Whatever else was going on in people's lives, Raph was always there. I am sure many, many people with me can picture him, at his pitch on Adelaide Street, Brisbane, next to Officeworks. Many people saw him every day, on their way to work or out for a day of shopping and no doubt, like me, exchanged hellos with him every time.

Raph’s passing and the community’s responses show that a life does not need to be extraordinary or high-profile to touch another life. At the end of the day, the size of our bank account, the number of academic degrees, what we did for a living or the number of worldly possessions do not matter. What does matter, and what leaves a lasting imprint on people’s hearts, is the way we stood in life and how we saw and treated our fellow human beings. Raph showed nothing but respect and kindness to anyone who passed by and took the time to say hello, and that is how he will be remembered. It is how I will remember him.

As you know, Grant and I organize BBQs for the Homeless and Others in Need. Our very next Signal Flare BBQ will be at Drevesen Park in Wynnum, Saturday 27 July, from 10am to 2pm. It is a special one. We dedicate this BBQ to Raph; he provided a meal to someone in need and we will be thinking of him and honouring him by doing the same at our BBQ and also handing out clothes, shoes, toiletries and much more. Feel free to check out the link and join us if you are free:

I have been told Raph did not like photos of himself. I am sure though, that he would not mind this photo being placed here. As a matter of fact, I am sure he would be touched to see how people pay tribute to him, at the place where he always was without fail, and to know that even more people will pay tribute to him in their hearts. One of the Big Issue vendors I spoke with today said he would pay tribute to Raph by making sure life goes on, and by continuing to live his life as well as he could. What can be a better legacy than that... Raph, I hope you are surrounded by the calm and reassurance you gave so many people by simply being there… May you rest in peace…

Written by Bernie the Polite Girl from the Polite Team