Ex-refugee helps vulnerable with daily essential deliveries during COVID
Ayman Alhussein trained as a dental technologist and worked as a filmmaker. But now, inspired by volunteers from Care4Calais, he delivers groceries and picks up prescriptions for elderly and vulnerable people who can’t leave the house.
The 26-year-old arrived in the UK in 2016 as a refugee, having been stowed away in a suitcase on a coach crossing the channel, and pitched up one sunny morning in London’s Victoria coach station.
He had met a crew from Deadbeat films in Calais who wanted to make his story into a movie (see below) and afterwards became interested in making movies himself. He was accepted for work experience at the BBC, scraped together enough cash to buy a laptop and launched a career as a filmmaker.
But then came COVID-19.
He said: “I was meant to do some work in Chertsey, 20 miles from London. I thought maybe it’s worth buying a car and not having to do it on public transport, so I did, and then they called me a few days later saying, ‘Sorry, we cancelled’. So I decided to use the car for grocery deliveries.
“I remember back in Syria when the bombing was happening. I would go outside and see if someone needs help, take people to hospital, that sort of thing. So something grew in me, the feeling of having to do something, not just watching. Helping people with their daily shopping fills that gap for me, and makes me feel good.”
‘You get inspired’
Ayman has now done more than 95 deliveries. He’s given his number to many of his customers in case they need anything else – prescriptions, medicine or other essentials.
He said: “You get inspired. I was inspired by people from Care4Calais and now I’m trying to inspire people myself, and that’s how it keeps going, I guess. It’s contagious!
“Being young – I was just 20-something in Calais – I was like ‘Wow! These people are amazing!’ The idea of someone coming from the UK and staying in Calais to help people was so inspiring. And I think if I am doing something good now, it’s because I was inspired by people like that.
“It’s a human thing. It doesn’t matter who I’m doing it for. My Dad is now in Sweden. I would help someone and hope that if my Dad needs help, there will be someone like me there, Swedish or Syrian, just a human being, doing the same.
“Not forgetting who we are, we all share the same Earth. We are different colours and different languages, but now with Coronavirus we are coming together. I’m doing my part; you’re doing your part. A doctor is a doctor, a cleaner is a cleaner, no matter where they are from.
“I’m still grateful to be here and to be able to do this. I think the UK is one of the amazing places where you get to see this nice mixture of people and diversity, and especially at this time when people stand together and do things together.”
To volunteer or donate, please visit our Emergency Appeal page.