Thanks to Anaëlle, volunteer extraordinaire!
This is Anaëlle. She is amazing, and not just because she is bilingual. She’s only 20 and super bright but also incredibly warm and gentle. When I watch her with the younger refugees she makes my heart melt. She has a special way of making friends with even the most shy ones and making them laugh. Somehow she gets the ones who don’t talk to join in and be part of the group.
This really is a special gift as along the refugee routes the quiet ones get pushed aside, often bullied and forgotten until they get used to being ignored. I love watching Anaëlle start to fix that with her gentle smile.
So many of the refugees know her by name as she has made such special relationships with them, and they always ask for her when she’s not with us.
She’s a huge help to the team leaders here in mapping where everyone is living in Calais, something that short term volunteers can’t do for us.
Anaëlle is from the south west of France, and came to volunteer with us for the first time in April last year. Realising that she wanted to come back, she found a course that would allow her to spend a longer stretch of time here; so far she’s done more than 200 days, but sadly now has to leave us. We honestly don’t know what we’ll do without her – not least because as well as having an amazing way with the refugees, she’s pretty awesome in the warehouse too.
Being bilingual in French and English she helps solve so many of our day to day issues. She looks after all of our three vehicles’ documentation and garage visits, and she translates everything for us, including all the official documents we have to deal with. Translating between us and other organisations in France, she helps us Brits navigate French bureaucracy! Nothing is ever too much trouble, and she can can do everything from fixing hair clippers to making graphs. Anything we need she does with a smile, and she’s wonderfully welcoming and encouraging to other volunteers as well. Her energy and kindness give everyone around here a real lift.
Thank you so much for everything Anaëlle – you’ll be badly missed, but we wish you all the best, and just hope you’ll be back to see us all again before too long!