A Lovely Cup of Cofffee with Muhammed
For more than a year, the Calais authorities have made it illegal to give food to refugees in certain areas. Even as I write that sentence, it seems unfathomable that the basic human right of access to food is made illegal to people.
But Care4Calais and a few other organisations prevail, and continue to find areas where we can give out food to refugees, who are often desperately hungry.
Last week, I went with a group of volunteers into the camps where refugees sleep, to give them food tickets so they could make their way to our van and trade a ticket for a food package. It was here that I met Muhammed, a 26-year-old man from Sudan. As another volunteer and I walked into his home of tent sheets tied to branches and a makeshift outdoor kitchen (you can see it in the picture), we asked if he’d like food tickets. His answer? “Would you like to have a coffee?”
In spite of his situation, Muhammed was asking us if we would like to share a cup of coffee with him – coffee that was sacred, as it had been provided by one of the support organisations. As he prepared this coffee with care and pride, he set about organising two makeshift seats of big upturned empty tin cans. Our comfort ,and having somewhere to sit, was clearly important to him.
As we sat down, we spoke to him about his family, his interests, his situation and we learnt some Sundanese Arabic. After a while we got up to leave and thanked him from the bottom of our hearts for his kindness and hospitality. “You are very welcome,” he said. “This is my home, and you are welcome here. I would like you to come back again to have food with me”.
These words will stay with me for a long time. They were spoken by a man who has barely nothing, has been through things that are unimaginably painful and traumatic, who is living in heartbreaking conditions and who, in spite of it all, wanted to welcome us into his “home”; to make us feel comfortable and share what little he has with us.
Muhammed – and others in his situation – are not numbers. They are not just refugees; they are human beings, with feelings, passions and desires. And they deserve the basic rights of food, warmth, safety and security.
The areas where it is illegal to give food to refugees are increasing, which makes it difficult to make sure refugees can eat. It’s more important than ever that we can keep helping. You can buy a food parcel to feed a family for just £10. Go to care4calais.org