A tribute to our team leadersnin Calais
Today I got back to the kitchen were I work after three days volunteering in Calais, and I was trying hard to perfect a tiny cake when suddenly the memory of France overwhelmed me. I think it was the contrast between the intricate detail, and what I’d seen. The endless mud. The relentless rain. The people in flip flops. The rats. The children with their muddy little hands. The soaking wet clothes. The ragged, makeshift sheets and tarps thrown up because there is nowhere dry to sleep.
And then underlying all that, the emotion: the constant feeling of tension, and fighting that, the resilience and determination.
Why is this still going on, after so long? I’ve been going out to help in Calais for over three years and the queues have not got any shorter, the need has not got any less, the brutality continues. Why?
These memories mean the transition when you come home is difficult, really difficult.
But I don’t despair. The resilience of the refugees never ceases to amaze me, but there is also the hope represented by the the crew from Care4Calais. The team leaders – Ollie, Jess and Lucy – are incredible humans. They are measured, professional and wise way beyond their years, and the love and hope they instil in everyone around them is inspiring. The organisations I work with, Come2Calais and Refyoume, takes new volunteers out to Calais, and I’ve seen the effect these amazing young leaders have on them, too.
In a world where so many people talk without acting, they don’t question or query or contemplate, they just do. And their doing changes lives.
I am so proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and to be part of their team.
The refugees in Northern France are incredible souls, and human as we are. They are us. We need them, and at the moment they really need us.
So I will be back in Calais in three weeks. As long as I can, I will keep going back. I’m privileged that I can travel freely, and so I hope to use that privilege by touching peoples lives in a small way.
The logic is simple: I do it because I hope someone would do the same for my family if they were displaced and needed a helping hand.
To volunteer or donate go to care4calais.org.