“If I hadn’t just sat down in the car, I would be dead for sure. I was driving to work in Jalalabad one day and suddenly, bang. A car exploded on the road ahead. I saw a woman who was walking her children to school. I knew straight away they were dead.”
With eyes glazed in pain, Ali* looked across the road, not seeing what was there. “It is not safe in my country, there are too many explosions, so much hurt. I want a chance to live a safe life. But here in Calais it is so hard.”
Chatting to the refugees at distributions with Care4Calais is often a lighthearted affair, with the refugees wanting to shake hands and welcome us, thank us for what we have brought and looking to brighten their day by hearing about where we are from, play some football, have a cup of tea from the tea urn and generator we bring to charge their phones. But sometimes the shadows of their past are just too much to ignore, and they use the opportunity to share some of their pain.
I could see the suffering this man had been through, and wished there was more I could offer than the dry fruit and hygiene pack (boxers, baby wipes, deodorant, toothkit, socks and a t-shirt that would let him freshen up and renew at least his under layer) that we had brought him and 400 others in the past few days. But as ever he was very grateful for the comfort it would bring him. He trailed off as three young boys approached, looking incredibly like my younger brother in his teenage years… a fluffy moustache just appearing. I asked how old they were – 14,15 and 16. Too young for the experiences they have been through. And too young to be living rough in Calais, risking their lives trying to make it to the UK to be with uncles, brothers and cousins.
Ali looked me in the eye, seeing I was shocked at their age and moved by his story. “We cannot go back, you understand, yes?”
Care4Calais provide direct aid to over 600 refugees in Calais, as well as greater numbers across northern France. We show human kindness to people in desperate need and rely on volunteers and donations.
Please help our work continue – donate at https://care4calais.org/donate/