Volunteering at Care4Calais you discover skills you didn’t know you had
Luck? Today was confusing. We started off at the Care4Calais warehouse drying out festival tents discarded by people too lucky to need to take them home after a weekend’s partying. Next came preparations to distribute supplies to a few hundred (mainly Iraqi and Iranian Kurdish) people in Dunquerque.
It’s sometimes hard to decide if I’m more impressed by the stream of motivated, compassionate, aware young people that choose to spend their summer in a dusty warehouse scrubbing tents or sorting sleeping-bags by quality, or by the children we meet at distribution who still manage to laugh and smile and say “Thank you” when there seems very little for them to be thankful for at all.
It struck me that I’d met Kurdish children this age at home. Children forced to flee to refugee camps just beyond their border, then thankfully (though I’d hardly consider them lucky) brought to the UK under the government’s resettlement scheme. Children who may well have come from the same town as those who have spent months patiently following their parents over mountains and across seas, only to arrive in an unwelcoming France. Luck.
This evening we were about to eat when we got a call saying that five new families with small children had just arrived in Dunquerque with nothing to shelter under and nothing to sleep on, an hour before sunset. I hadn’t ordered a drink by this point so was able to drive back to Dunquerque with another volunteer, delivering enough tents, sleeping-bags and blankets to at least see them through the night. Lucky. They weren’t forced to wander the streets tonight (after so many months of wandering) simply because I hadn’t ordered a beer yet, so could drive.
Volunteering at Care4Calais you discover skills you didn’t know you had, and certainly realise that there are tasks you’re not up to as well. But sometimes being able to be useful here is simply about luck. People live by very fine margins, and working at Care4Calais means you sometimes get to nudge their luck in the right direction.