Leokadija Lescika runs a rolling village store in the small Latvian town of Liepa, about 120 kilometers from the capital Riga. The scenically beautiful region, in the middle of the Gauja National Park, is characterized by a lack of jobs for young people and thus by emigration and an aging population. Six days a week, the 68-year-old and her driver cover more than a hundred sales outlets. In the small villages and the many individual farmsteads, the rolling “corner store” is often eagerly awaited. The next store is sometimes up to twenty kilometers away. Without a car, shopping means an arduous day’s journey by bus and train. For their customers, who are often elderly and live alone, the weekly visit of the rickety Mercedes bus is a true gift. It also provides an opportunity for gossip and important social exchange among neighbors.
For Leokadija Lescika, too, her rolling store is more a vocation than simply a job. She is happy to fulfill small special requests for her customers, and if the slim pension at the end of the month is not even enough for the bread, she also grants credit. “I need the people and the people need me,” she says. She doesn’t need to hope for being rich in the process anyway. At the end of the month, the proceeds are barely enough to cover all the costs and for her own living expenses. The saleswoman with a heart can’t afford major repairs to the decrepit sales bus.
Then, in June 2021, disaster happens: During one of their trips, the bus breaks down in the middle of the road. Continuing the operation was not possible. Her own existence, but also the supply of the region, were on the line. Leokadija Lescika thought about quitting. But she received unexpected help in her time of need. In Germany, some people learned about her situation from a television report, quickly founded a private aid initiative and collected money for a new rolling village store. Now they are bringing the van to Latvia in person and are looking forward to meet the shopkeeper in person. But above all, they are curious to see how Leokadija Lescika will react to her little miracle of Liepa.