Written by Mike Beecham
First off, I wanted to thank everyone who has responded to me so positively since I made my first post this morning about my trip to ‘The Jungle’ in Calais. A couple of you wanted to know more about how I was able to get access, and what my motivation was. This might end up being a long post, but please bear with it, as it’s so so important.
We’ve all been aware of the mass influx of displaced refugees from many places around the world, into a number of countries in the EU. This would include refugees from places such as Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, Kurdistan, Pakistan, and others. The majority have been trafficked, spending all they have on the promise of a safer home. Many, many people have arrived in France cold, wet, tired, hungry, sick and so desperate words cannot express. Some never made it to their destination, dying on the way due to starvation and weather-related conditions. Many, however, found themselves in Calais and were placed in ‘The Jungle’, where conditions are so difficult to comprehend. The camp is cold, wet, muddy. Disease is rife due to malnutrition and poor hygiene. Many already believe that they will not see freedom from the camp, and will simply die within the Jungle. Winter has not even fully set in yet.
I was aware of humanitarian efforts through my local church, with friends making two previous trips to Calais, working with an organisation called Care4Calais. During one Sunday morning service a video was shown, documenting the appalling conditions within the camp, and I knew right there and then that I wanted to be part of the effort, whatever little I could bring to the table. Initially, after some discussion, it was decided that I and my family would go over on the next trip. However, I was only able to take one of my sons due to practical issues at our end.
Care4Calais have been working out there for a few months now, with a warehouse already set up to help take in and distribute whatever donations are given…everything from blankets, tents, shoes (they definitely need shoes!!) toiletries, food, water, waterproof clothing, tarpaulin, groundsheets, wooden palettes, etc. The list of requirements really is endless. The refugees literally have nothing but what they left with, and need so so much.
Listen, I absolutely get that there is SO much need in the world today, so much that we’re faced with that it’s almost impossible to know where to start. Maybe the refugee situation isn’t even on your radar, and that’s ok. For others though, you might be thinking that you need to do SOMETHING, but wouldn’t even know where to start. Well, the good news is that you CAN get involved, even a little bit.
First off, you can go visit the Care4Calais Facebook page, they have a number of different ways you can help out, from donations to volunteering. They’re a great bunch of people and they’ll get the best out of you, whatever you do for then.
Another way I found out today, is that you could go right to the point of need and buy some things that are so badly needed. Leisure Fayre have a great idea. Simply buy the items and they’ll ship it direct to the distribution warehouse, ready to go right out to the refugees: “http://www.leisurefayre.com/section…/81188/1/urgently_needed”
There might even be another charity or organisation you’re aware of. Speak to them, ask them what they need and how you can help. At the end of the day, we can call them refugees, migrants or whatever. The truth of the matter is that they’re mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, grandchildren. They’re people like you and me. They hurt, they get cold, they feel lonely and abandoned, desperate..just like you or I would in the same situation.
Thanks for getting to the bottom of the post (I did warn you it would be long!). Get the word out there. This isn’t a political thing, this is a humanitarian thing, and they need help badly.