Pauline’s Calais diary – part one
A couple of days ago, we shared a brief story about Pauline, a retired teacher and grandmother. She’s been volunteering in France with Care4Calais for the last three weeks.
Here is the first of several beautiful and heart-rending extracts from her Calais diary.
April 1, 2020 — After preparing hot drinks and food packs in the morning, I left to take K* to the hospital for his appointment. The wound on his hand had festered and the clinic asked him to return after 24 hours.
When I got to the camp, I couldn’t find him, but he was there, curled up asleep among the tussocky grass. From a distance, he looked like a bundle of rags. I roused him gently. He took a drink from the pan on the fire and a piece of dry bread from a plastic bag. I said he could take his breakfast in the car. He later apologized for the crumbs.
At the PASS clinic for homeless and destitute people they wanted K* to take a shower before they looked at his hand. I agreed to wait even though I was anxious to join the others on distribution, but he understands little English and I don’t want him to lose trust in us.
I sat on the grass and relaxed for the first time in 17 days. I rang my daughter, a midwife, and we talked about her first experience of caring for a COVID-19 mother.
I took K* back to his camp. As I left, he asked if I could bring him a pair of trousers. “Please,” he said, “not big” and smiled. Most refugees are young skinny lads suffering from a degree of malnourishment. I said I’d ask. Of course, I’d bring him a whole new outfit given the opportunity, but it’s difficult to give to one and not the others.
Sometimes after dealing with K*, I cry on the way back to the warehouse. He’s only 15 years old and somewhere he has a mother…
Then I tell myself that I’m working alongside one of the most competent people I’ve ever met and she’s only 19. So man up, Pauline, and avoid sentimentality.
To be continued.