A Lithuanian man who has been living in his car since September has suddenly found himself with a number of benefactors since his situation was reported by Vísir this week.
Ricardas Zazeckis, who is in his 60s and has been living in Iceland for 13 years, lost his job and earlier this fall, and lost his home shortly after. He did not, however, apply for unemployment or disability benefits. Rather, he lived in his Volkswagen Polo at the base of Mt. Esja outside of Reykjavík. His car had no gas, so Ricardas was not able to even turn it on for heat. He told reporters that he had a wife and children in Lithuania who he was sending money to, but had not been able to since he lost his job. When asked how he spent his days, Ricardas responded, “I just sleep.”
The police have stated that officers had been informed of Ricardas’ situation and had visited him several times to try and offer him other solutions, such as sleeping at a homeless shelter or even to sleep at the police station. Each time, however, he refused assistance.
The public response following Vísir’s interview with Ricardas was immediate. Róbert Guðmunðsson, a painter and the founder of the Hjálparsamtök Íslendinga (Icelanders’ Help Association), visited Ricardas and brought him food, money, and gasoline. “We gave him cookies, caramel snuður [Icelandic pastry], milk, orange soda, and cigarettes. We also gave him 2000 ISK and gas,” he told Vísir. Additionally, a car repair company has offered to do any necessary work on Ricardas’ car, and aid organizations have brought him warm winter clothes.
And in perhaps the best turn of events, Ricardas’ former employer offered him a job again. The company will also pay for his stay in a guesthouse until he has the means to pay for his own accommodations.