A family spirit at the Eritrean site in Calais
I love visiting the Eritrean site in Calais. It has a great sense of community and people there tend to be cheerful; there’s a sort of cheeky mischievousness about them.
There’s a young guy who will always come up to me before distributions start and he’ll joke, ‘Today I’m going to zig-zag’ [their term for cutting in line]. So I tell him that I’m going to watch him really closely. He’ll try a couple of times, but then goes to the back of the line. No one gets angry about it.
There’s no animosity with regards to sharing anything in the food packs either; individuals will grab an orange juice and pass it around, which is really nice to see.
Even when we can’t speak to them because of language, you communicate a lot via looks. People will grin at you when they’re doing something mischievous, in a very good-natured manner.
The only time you can feel tensions rising at the campsite is during one of their many football matches. It’s the only site where not even our bravest volunteers will join in to play. But a couple of us did have the opportunity to play some volleyball with them yesterday.
Another volunteer, Hannah, wrote about her experience delivering food to them in her personal blog. “Despite appalling experiences, the guys I spoke to the other day were cheerful and joking. Abraham told me about learning English at school and reading the Bible in his language,” she said.
“We laughed that he’d have no need for the shampoo in the pack we’d just distributed as he’s gone bald, and he told me about missing the food from home.”
Hannah is now on personal a mission to find Berbere, a spice mix that Abraham really misses, in one of the French shops.
“I can’t imagine what Abraham’s life was like, or the journey he made across Sudan, Libya, the ocean and Europe. I can’t imagine being so far from home with such little hope to hang on to.”
— written by a volunteer
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