A Teacher’s Story
‘I actually loved being a teacher. But every year they changed what subject I had to teach. And some subjects were so dangerous. All the teachers of politics in Eritrea were scared of their students. Because if one or two students report that you were saying something against the government, or not teaching the history in the way they wanted you to teach it… that would be it. Prison or death.’
Eritreans are currently the biggest single nationality represented amongst Calais’ refugees. And with good reason. The more I learn about the dictatorship that has ruled there for 25 years, the lack of freedom of expression, of surveillance and fear amongst people about who is an informer for the government or the security forces, or who might falsely inform on you out of fear or greed, the less I am surprised at the number of refugees desperate to escape the regime there and the indefinite, involuntary national service forced upon them.
The surprise is how gentle, how polite, grateful and courteous the Eritreans are as a group given what they have fled from. Each week when we go to the particular spot where they gather, I have to tell the volunteers that the distribution of essential aid that we are bringing may be slowed by the number of hands they will need to shake, often accompanied by a bowed head, a touched arm or a hand over the givers heart. This human contact and cultural routine seems to matter just as much as the trousers, jumpers, coats or clean underwear that we are giving out…
Please help us to keep reaching the refugees that need us. They are fleeing war, torture, dictatorships and extreme poverty – by donating to Care4Calais you will keep aid going out to them. www.care4calais.org/donate