After witnessing the plight and struggle of the migrants in Calais on the media, it felt like they were stuck in no man’s land.
This was a great point of concern, as winter was well on its way and the numbers at the camp continued to grow. As YouthWay volunteers, we decided to get together and answer the plight of many waiting for help. We personally decided to deliver the items in hand to all those suffering. This is the first time YouthWay volunteers have organised such a collection, although we have been involved in other fundraisers in the past.
The emotions and excitement of all were on a high. Seeing the community spirit gelling together and coming together in answering the call to help and assist the needy was something which felt really warm. It inspired us to commit day and night in gathering aid for the migrants in Calais.
Initially, we managed to collect enough to fill one van. But the spirit of the community was so encouraging that donations and aid were still coming in. So we carried on collecting to a point where we were ready to leave with 10 full vans for Calais. We had all sorts of items donated from clothing to sleeping bags; from food and water to toys for the children.
I will never forget Saturday 10th October. Despite the cold and rain, a group of 30 YouthWay volunteers left slough heading to Calais. We reached the Dover port at 7am, where all the vans were loaded on the ferry to France. The journey was filled with different emotions. For most of us, it would be our first time on the ground in a relief situation, where we’d witness with our own eyes, the plight of displaced people in need.
The way the camp has been portrayed in the media isn’t completely accurate. This trip gave us the opportunity to see the full picture. In our book, if people need help they should be able to get it. The refugees in Calais live in a state of being stranded there.
We reached the camp at around 10:30am. Our entire group was moved when we saw all the people who were waiting there for our help. Especially the children, standing amidst the torn tents, without anywhere to go. It created a feeling of gratitude and appreciation for all the blessings we take for granted. Distributing the aid and seeing the smiles on the faces of many was a feeling that cannot be described in words.
We spent the whole day at the camp distributing all the aid that our generous community had donated. Our efforts received overwhelming, from among ourselves as a group, and from the community at large. Seeing is definitely believing. YouthWay volunteers left Calais with many memories, and with greater determination to answer the plight of people in need, anywhere around the world. For me personally, seeing a migrant child wrapped in a sleeping bag was the hardest thing. It has made me determined to respond as best I can, because nobody wants to be in this situation by choice.