Christmas in Calais
This Christmas one of our volunteers had a lovely idea to make things a bit special for the refugees. She wanted to give them all Christmas presents. But.
There were a couple of small problems with this lovely idea. Firstly, there are around 500 refugees in Calais alone – and we go to five other places as well. Secondly, most of the refugees don’t know about Christmas as many aren’t Christian and it will not have been celebrated where they came from.
Luckily the formidable Lesley Gates is not a lady to give up easily. She started fundraising mid October and soon had others on board with her idea. We then got together to make a list of small things that might just make the refugees smile. We came up with:
– playing cards
We then talked about how the refugees might react. The first full September we were in Calais we were invited to share a meal with them for Eid, a major Muslim festival. It was a magical experience in the camp. We decided that introducing them to one of our traditions would just be a way of welcoming them to Europe, so it would be an OK thing to do.
By 20 December Lesley’s fundraising had broken all targets and we had piles of gifts stacked around the warehouse. Across Christmas week our teams have been out and, as well as our planned distributions of coats and blankets, they have been able to give out gifts at all five sites in Calais…..and in Dunkirk, and in Brussels, and in Ouistraham too!
What a fabulous result!
So a massive well done and thank you to Lesley Gates, Christmas In Calais – A Time For Giving and everyone who has worked on or donated to this brilliant project. You have done much more than spread a bit of Christmas cheer. You have brought some smiles and lightheartedness to a place where both are in short supply. Great job, done well.