Winter is coming
Pretty much everyone is aware of the crisis that has been brewing just across the English Channel. The refugee camp in Calais isn’t referred to as The Jungle because of its warm, humid environment. It was named The Jungle by the refugees themselves, to reflect the living conditions, to get across the fact that they are not accessing basic human rights. There are now 6000 people living in the camp and nowhere near the amount of facilities needed for that number. The French government has been given eight days to provide ten more water stations and fifty latrines – but from the reports I have seen, written by people who have actually been there, this isn’t going to be enough.
There are people from many, many different places living in the camp. Men, women and children – and lots of teenagers who have had to grow up a lot faster than they should have done. Some of them have been there for a long time while others have only arrived recently. But for now, The Jungle is their home.
Lots of people have organised donations of sleeping bags and clothes. I’ve read about people who are collecting money to provide rocket stoves, so that the refugees can heat up their own food and water. The camp currently provides 2,500 meals a day – which means a lot of people are going hungry. I’ve read about a group of people who are taking caravans to Calais, in order to give families with children a chance of getting through the winter safely.
My teenage son came home from school telling me that we couldn’t sit in our nice home, eating three meals a day and not do something to try to make life a little bit better for someone else. We have chosen to focus on the school in the refugee camp and more specifically, on books. Yes – books are a luxury item in the grand scheme of things – but our contact at the school has told us that English books are what is really needed. A book won’t feed a child nor will it keep a teenager warm at night, when the only thing between him and the ground is a broken, rejected festival tent. But it might give the person reading it a chance to escape the reality of The Jungle, for just a few minutes. It might help that person improve their English skills which could, one day, help them to get a job.
So we’re raising money to buy books that will be appealing to children, teenagers and adults and, at the end of November, my son and I will travel to Calais and spend some time in the school, sharing the books and listening to the stories of the people who have travelled so far, and worked so hard, in search of something better. The link to our Crowdfunding page is here and if you feel able to share it on Twitter or Facebook then we’d be really grateful.
Thank you for reading x