A Day in the Life
Yes. I am in Calais.
A week tomorrow since I arrived in the small arbour city of Calais and I cannot explain in words what it means and how it feel to be here. after a quick analysis of the situation I decided to leave my comfy bed and london to come and give my 2 hands to the help refugees.
I have distributed food when people were hungry, waterproof coats under torrential rain, warm coats when it was cold that nearly snowed. I have exchanges my good hat for a thin hat, my gloves for non warm gloves, which after 2 minutes I gave to another refugee without gloves.
I have drunk teas with Sudanese, Afghani, Pakistanis, Syrians.
Played football with mixed teams (exactly like in TV, yes!), eaten food from all over the world, spoke to people coming from countries which I never heard off. Given families what they needed receivin love and hugs as the pictures show.
There is not a single minute where us, volunteers and refugees work to make the life better. People from all over Europe, America and other countries are coming together to help the refugees, to show that our government and politicians do not represent us.
Life is hard. We all know that. Just stop for a minute. Imagine. You were sleeping, your wife is next to you, your kids, a girl 2 years old and a boy 10 years old. WHOOOOOSH. BOOM. an air plain just dropped a bomb not too far and everything shackes, your wife screams, your kids start crying.
You are the boss, the security for them, need to do something to stop that. it is already 2 years in war and now it is getting closer. Everyone run out on the street, WHOOOOOSH BOOOOOM. a bomb has destroyed your house, just few seconds after you left it. Only few belongings are left for you to collect. Documents, phone, pictures of your dad and mom.
There it starts the trip to DREAMLAND.
You and your family walk for 2 days to reach the sea, arrive with your few belongings, starving, thirsty, your wife is exhausted, your little boy is walking in silent, you are carrying the girl that has not stopped crying since you have left. You tell them everything will be fine but you don’t know whether you can keep this promise.
Finally the sea! oh, look at that dingy! we are 200 and that can only fit 50!… get the family close to you, it starts moving. everyone is squished on top of each other. The engine makes it just in time before it breaks down. We reach land swimming.
Italy. Maybe Greece. DREAMLAND IS CLOSER.
But the trip has just started. Move through countries. People, Volunteers, drivers… everyone gives us help to reach destination. or not everyone… the polices found you in a lorry going to France… you have to walk from there… you are in Germany. 5 days after you make it to the JUNGLE.
Here you find us. WELCOMING YOU, giving you and your family a shelter with bed, duvets, pots, firewood, new (second hand) clothes, food, water, toilets… you arrive in your area of your community. You met your neighbours that left 3 months before.. you tell each other the stories of your trip, they were in Austria and had to walk from there. they are more relaxed.. they make you feel safe.
It is going to take time for you and your family to make yourself at home.. but we are there. US HUMANS. There are Spanish, Italians, French, Germans, Americans, Canadians… Everyone is here! everyone works together. doesn’t matter how hard, cold, wet, muddy, dangerous is going to be… everyday you jump out of bed at 8 and get to the warehouse for 9, first distribution at 10 after the same debrief about health and safety, you fill the van wth your new team, some new faces a bit worried but fool of spirit ready to help. Drive to the camp, 2 cars one van fool of goods, after a second and third safety debrief you get to the camp.
People say good morning, ‘line’? where? Everyone follows unit the van stops in the middle of the ‘street’ outside the Ethiopian church… a line of 50 people is already formed and you cannot even open the doors for how many people are around.
A team of 12 can deal with the line. 2 people in the van taking out coats, 4 people on the side of the van to contain the line and make and make a human shelf for the cheeky one that wants to jump the line, a human gate that slowly allows people in while singing along to Bob Marley and starting a dance amongst the line while 2 refugees are choosing their perfect coat! PATIENCE AND SMILE THAT S THE RECIPE!
That s a good day… nothing bad is happening… oh wait! what s that smoke? it s comjng from the bridge! (the entrance of the camp).. Everyone gets in the back of the van, the long terms volunteers go and check out if anyone needs help while the van brings back the new arrivals to safety in the warehouse.
At the end of the day we all meet at the warehouse, share stories of the day, updating, reporting back and decide new plans for tomorrow.
The volunteers go back to the house. One of us cook for all, we all give turns without arguing, helping if anyone is tired, collective help is the answer. It keeps going. Anything we can talk about is the camp, the refugees, the distribution, the police, teargas, water cannons, injured, then we remember about the mom from Kurdistan that kissed our hands to thank us about the new bag of donations and toys for her family, and the French man that helped an injured on the street, the young man from Syria that helped with the line, the bob Marley dance… we go to bed. tomorrow it is another day. I wonder what is going to happen.
Humans, that’s what and who we are.