Meet Pauline, a grandmother on the front line
My name is Pauline and I am a 58 year old retired teacher and grandmother currently volunteering in Calais.
Refugees currently residing in Northern France and Belgium are being further marginalised due to the Covid-19 crisis. We’re seeing instances of true hunger; drinking water supplies are in jeopardy; government and charitable provision is being cut back; and the gap between the fortunate and the unfortunate has widened.
Like many others, I find such disparity unacceptable and Care4Calais has given me an opportunity to act, to stay ‘on the right side of history’, and to enrich my own life with a sense of purpose.
It is crucial that the refugee community is protected from Covid-19. Social distancing is a privilege only the advantaged can enjoy. As I had been on a walking holiday in the wilds of North Wales prior to coming over, I was confident the risk of bringing the virus over with me was negligible. The fact that lockdown was enforced quickly by the French authorities reduced the risk still further.
Of course, my family was worried – it’s only natural to want to gather your brood under your wing when faced with threat – but they now understand that, presently, I’m no more at risk here than back in the UK. They understand that I am ‘at home’ in the sense of avoiding unnecessary travel and complying with Covid-19 restrictions. My little Airbnb apartment is my home for now. That’s tough, but I remind myself that my parents lived through WW2, enduring postings over a period of several years. My volunteering role is considered front-line aid work. I’m proud of that.
There’s nothing glamorous about my working environment and the stakes are high so tensions sometimes run unchecked but I’m learning and growing at a faster rate than I’ve done for years. In a matter of days, I’ve become more efficient, more productive and more resilient. I’m doing what I ‘was cut out to do’ and that’s priceless.
If any of this resonates with you, please get in touch. It is still legal to make your way to France for this purpose and, at present, the ferries are still running.
We need a lot more help and we need it now.
Volunteer or donate here.