People queued standing in the cold waiting to be seen, they were in pain.
People queued standing in the cold waiting to be seen, they were in pain. I heard myself repeating thousands of times to the queue: “please be patient, the Dentists will see everybody”. And they did. The dentists kept saying “next, next, next”, as they treated patients until past sunset. Until supplies were low and no more people were in the line. They treated Dila, a young girl with a severe mouth infection. Her father was holding her during the treatment, while her mother was sobbing consoled by the dental nurse. They treated Mahmoud, who came with his teeth prothesis in his hands to get it fixed, and Jamal, who hadn’t slept for nights and had a cheek as big as an orange. They treated Kilda and Niyan, two sisters aged less than 10 years old, who held their hands tight as they took turns to get their painful tooth treated. They visited Lorin and her 6 daughters, the youngest one of which was just three weeks old and had a palate infection. Beside the pain and the stress, I also saw many happy smiles.
I saw some toothless and bleeding smiles and I also saw many people smiling with their eyes, the dentists’ smile behind their sanitary mask and the satisfied patients’ smile after receiving treatment. Seeing so many smiles on my last day in Calais was a precious gift, that made me forget for a moment a sense of powerlessness that accompanied me during the time I spent there. Overwhelmed by the struggle of managing limited resources and dealing with the direct consequences of politics on the lives of other human beings. It was sometimes difficult to come to my warm room thinking my support was somehow helpful. Those smiles meant a lot to me because no police raid could take what had been donated that weekend. They showed me that no situation was difficult enough to kill trust and generosity, helping me to regain trust in humanity and in my role as a citizen. When we left the camp the full moon was shining high in the sky reflecting the light of the sun over us all, and I smiled too, thinking that we, humans living on the same planet, all share the hope for a better tomorrow, where dreams are fulfilled and teeth don’t hurt. – Volunteer Marcella Segre For more information on the refugee crisis, to volunteer or donate you can get involved