Feeling the family love in Calais
This is the Log of Doom in Calais. It’s called the Log of Doom because it spans a stream and you have to cross it to reach one of the places where refugees stay.
If you fall off you’ll get – at the very least – wet feet, but today we didn’t run any risk because one of the refugees balanced on the edge and helped every single one of us over. When I tried to thank him he just laughed and shrugged it off. ?”We help each other,” he smiled.
It was similar to a distribution last week that was like performing on an ice rink! We all slipped about and caught each other from slipping on the ice, and it was amazing how all the men could laugh with us and help us from slipping even while telling us how cold it was last night. (They were very pleased with their new joggers, which provided an extra layer against the cold).
In Calais, when the weather is wet or cold like today, it somehow brings everyone together like this. Afterwards I found myself thinking about a conversation I had with a refugee from Sudan a few weeks ago. He talked about how everyone in Calais was missing their family. “We don’t have them any more,” he said. “That is why people you meet here become like family.”
He was so right – that’s why people here help each other out of an instinct. It’s the opposite of the selfishness and taking that refugees are so often accused of.
It seems particularly sad to think of it now, at Christmas, because this period is often associated with family. Christian refugees often tell us they find it hard to enjoy the festival because it remindsof them of celebrating with parents and siblings back at home. It’s heartbreaking to hear that. As volunteers we listen, and try to provide at least some of the friendship they’re missing.
To be so alone and far from home, and yet to still smile, and care for others – that’s one thing people mean when they talk about how resilient refugees become.
The family in the Christian Christmas story had to do the same they became refugees too. I can think of a few politicians who ought to come to Calais in December, and reflect on that.
To volunteer or donate go to care4calais.org/donate.