Pauline’s Calais diary – part one

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.

About Care4Calais

Care4Calais was founded by a group of volunteers with the sole aim of supporting the people of the Calais refugee camps, providing fresh meals, warm clothing, heating and important legal and medical support.

We are not politicians – we are people like you who simply believe that every human has the right to be treated in a fair and dignified way.

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