Last night I was eating dinner with friends when I noticed that one of them, Jess, was quietly crying as she ate.
I asked her what was wrong. “”I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t want to spoil the dinner by saying anything. But at the distribution today, I met some guys who were really hungry, and didn’t have any food.”
“Afterwards I took some to them.”
“They were in the most terrible situation. It was awful and I can’t stop thinking about it.”
I knew we had to do something, so we quickly finished eating
The three of us went back to the warehouse, grabbed some tents and sleeping bags, and drove to these refugees.
Their situation really was horrific. There were eight of them – all Iranian men – huddled beneath a bridge, with a single two-man tent and two blankets between them. It was freezing in Calais, and the harsh wind whipping off the sea made it worse; it was the kind of cold that chills you right to the bone. They thanked us over and over but all I could think was, they shouldn’t have to; no human being should ever have to live like this.
It was 11pm by then. We really wanted to get something to warm them up but the only thing still open in Calais was a KFC; we bought big family buckets of hot chicken, with lots of hot chocolate and coffee, and enjoyed a late-night meal with these poor guys.
At least they wouldn’t be so hungry and cold that night. I felt proud of Jess for her compassion, and proud to be part of an organisation that really cares and does something about it.
But the night made me think again how no-one should end up like this. It’s just not necessary. At a time when the plight of Ukrainians has re-focused Europe’s attention on refugees, it’s important to remember that people from many different countries are also here fleeing the most terrible conflicts and the fear of persecution.
We should be welcoming all of them. And that’s what Care4Calais will continue to do.