A Trip to Calais... The Jungle

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Sea view from ferry

So I'm sure you've all heard of the refugee problem in France where all of the refugees have fled from their homes looking for a safe country that will take them in. A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip up there arranged by a few friends who really wanted to make a difference including my Husband and Mother-in-law. We took supplies such as food, clothing, tents and warm blankets.

We took a one day trip on a ferry going to Calais. I left my son with my mother who looked after him for the day as I thought taking him with me didn't seem like the best choice. The ferry up to Calais was beautiful. The sun was shining, the sea was calm and the views from Dover to Calais were just exquisite.


But enough about the beauty up to Calais, we came out of the ferry ports and drove up the highway to the refugee camps. As we drove up the highway, we could see the camps below us on either side. Feeling relieved to have found it, our next obstacle was to find a way in, which wasn't so easy as most the roads leading up towards the camp were closed off by police. So we drove around pretty much in circles for almost an hour trying to find a way in. Eventually we did get in. As we drove up we could see loads of tents all sorts of sizes on mud ground with loads of refugees just watching you. We took supplies from the cars and distributed them around the camp. meeting loads of interesting people as we did. 

The camp

The camp, which is actually named The Jungle wasn't quite as I had expected it to be. Or should I say it was worse than I thought it would be. We were in complete and utter shock at the conditions that these people had to live in. It was a freezing cold day and it had started to rain and all they had were tents as shelter. The soil ground they lived on became extremely muddy. Your feet would sink into the mud as you walked through it. There's no medication so imagine the elderly and young children that get ill. How would they cope? They had portable toilets they used. I decided to open the door of one of them and let's just say it was pretty horrendous. This is just a few of the daily difficulties that these people go though. All I could think of at this point was Alhamdulillah! I am so grateful to Allah for even having a roof over my head! We have electricity, we have warm central heating, we have cookers and we have food. Our daily problems seem like nothing compared to them.

But there was a sunny side in all of this- the people. The people were wonderful! Despite all of the calamities they faced, they seemed happy. They didn't seem too phased about the fact that it was raining and they were soaking and that they probably wouldn't eat a proper meal that day. There was this lovely feeling of community. Everyone helped each other. And it was so wonderful to see charities bringing in supplies of food and clothing and things they needed. It was almost as if they had built a mini town for themselves. There were your corner shops and restaurants. I even saw a Masjid and a Church. It seemed like everyone's needs were accounted for. There were like group leaders that would distribute supplies equally so everyone got what they needed. 

There was a refuge centre for women and children and every Saturday they had a women's spa day where volunteers would come and make the women feel pampered. They would do massages, eyebrow threading, nail painting, and all sorts of wonderful things to help them forget the reality of where they were. I found this amazing. I got into a conversation with one of the volunteers. Her story was astonishing, she really was there to simply help the people. She gave up her life and moved into The Jungle to help the refugees after helping them for a few weeks, she went back home at which point she felt guilty for having all of her luxury items when there were people starving. So a charity sponsored her to live in Calais and volunteer at the woman's centre every day. This I found so beautiful. May Allah reward all of those going out of their way to help all of the refugees. 
Food for thought, when you go to sleep tonight in your warm cosy beds, just remember the people in need and be grateful for all that you have.

Please do find it in your hearts to donate some money to buy supplies that the refugees need, even the smallest amount will make a big difference. Here is the website you can donate to www.gofundme.com/3t9u58wg

Thank you for reading!

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