I’ve learnt two new words in Arabic – “ahdhia” (shoes) and “jawarib” (socks). But it’s these words that will stick with me the longest “these socks, they feel like clouds on my feet…”
Yesterday, our team of volunteers in Calais gave out 400 pairs of waterproof walking boots, trainers and socks to people in Calais who are sleeping outside in the cold and wet.
“A good surprise, we promise,” as the (very) long line of refugees patiently waited to see what was in the back of our van. The back doors open and a ripple of joy and gleeful proclamations of ‘ahdhia! jawarib! travelled down the line. I’ve never seen grins so wide.
Wide smiles and the excited pitter patter of dry feet filled the field, as the heavens opened almost on queue.
“My feet do not feel this wet!”
One of the common problems with filmsy footwear, worn down by journeys of many, many miles, is that when they get wet – refugees have no other way to dry them than by a fire. This causes the rubber to crack and the sole to form holes. They’ll pop their holey shoes back on – their feet get wet again – and the cycle repeats itself.
Providing sturdy footwear, and thick socks, protects refugees against the bitter cold and relentless rain of Northern France, but unfortunately it’s one of the most expensive things we do, so we can’t do it often.
This is a measure of compassion. Similar to telling a joke, offering a warm cup of chai tea or playing a game of jenga (quite competitively might I add), refugees are reminded here that they matter – and we care.
If you care too, and are able to, a donation of £15 could buy a new pair of winter boots and “socks that feel like clouds.” Care4Calais.org/donate