My Dear Friends,
Seven of us have spent the weekend supporting Refugees in Calais.
Now we are back full of memories.
The human connection... working together as a team, leaving behind all religious, cultural, national or political interest and focusing on human interaction and on what we can give and receive as humans from humans. I feel incredibly proud and honoured to be part of this connection.
Of course, again what we have seen is making a deep impression on our lives and will take time to digest and integrate this experience into our daily lives.
I only can speak for myself and I only can share my impression with you, so I will tell you a short story, which has touched me deeply. .
On Sunday morning we were in the Camp Dunkirk. The conditions have not changed since my last visit in December. Mud, mud, mud, mud everywhere.
As we walked into the camp, I saw a girl, 10 years old, towing a little handcart loaded with two canisters of water with her younger sister, approximately 3 years old.
A situation that would seem nice and sweet if based in Cornwall or Devon at the beach during a summer holiday.
however, This was a Sunday morning in February and in the middle of mud. The journey; 500yards through the mud to the tent where her mum is waiting with two more children.
I pulled the cart and talked with the girl. Her spoken English was remarkably good.
No complains, no moaning. a smile on her face.
She is the oldest of 4 and she is proud that she can do something for her family and herself. She is not happy to live in the mud, but at least nobody is shooting at her and no bombs are dropping out of the sky.
In 1945 in Germany, my father, the oldest of three, was looking after his siblings as his mum was searching for her sister to bring her into a safe place- as the Russians moved into Germany shooting civilians and raping women on a wide scale.
My father has never fully recovered. I guess he has never developed the capacity to show his emotions maturely and to show emphasis due to his own experiences being a child during war.
My heart was crying.
These children ARE losing their childhooD.
thEse children are the leaders of tomorrow.
What are the decisionS theY will make; peace or war, friendship or haters.
On a positive note, we have been able to deliver lots of Food, Clothing and Tents.
We also managed to set up a Trailer Tent. Please see the pictures as a snapshot.
If you would like more detailed information, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
Many thanks to all,
Trip to Calais – 6th & 7th February 2016
Miss Munira Gheewala
A volunteer of Give Humanity A Chance
THIS IS Her STORY...
I was excited about going to Calais and really didn’t have any ideas of what to expect or who I was going to meet or the experiences I was going to have.
As we travelled to Dover in the early hours of Saturday morning, Ulf, an experienced member and lead of the convoy group asked me a question, ‘What are you expecting from this visit?’ My response was I am going without any expectations at all. Little did I know at that point that I was about to embark on a journey which was going to teach me so much about myself, the people around me and the people I was going to encounter at the camps.
We spent the first day of our trip at the warehouse. My goodness, I was overwhelmed at this huge operation of people, mostly volunteers giving up their time to try and support and make life comfortable for the refugees in the camp. So many people from so many different walks of life coming together for one common purpose, humanitarian concern and support.
I couldn’t believe I was part of this huge operation that I had never even dreamed of. I spent my time at the warehouse talking to different groups of people who all shared either their previous experiences or there first experience like me about why they were there and supporting this cause.
Our convoy delivered huge amounts of food, fruits, clothing, outdoor clothing, footwear, bicycles as well as a trailer tent and generous cash donations.
On Sunday, I got the opportunity to go the ‘jungle’ of Dunkirk. Conditions were shocking, and there was little sign of a solution. Among those trying to survive were approx. 1,500 people, almost all of them Kurds, fleeing war, poverty and persecution in Iraq.
It was an extremely cold winter morning, there had been a night of rainfall so it was very wet and muddy. As I made way into the camp with my two convoy mates, I could feel my feet sinking into the thick mud with each step. The icy cold wind blowing against my face bringing frost bites.
The camps were in such dire conditions. As we walked into camp we saw a young girl struggling to tow a little handcart loaded with two canisters of water and her younger sister. My fellow mate offered to help tow the cart to her tent. As we walked up the young girl showed true spirit of resilience even though she was living in extremely terrible conditions.
As we reached their tent they invited us in.
As I looked around they had the basics to keep them going. In this tent lived a mother with 4 young children, whom she was providing for. The family, were smiling and welcoming and were making the best of the situation they were in considering the circumstances.
The mother explained she was just happy that nobody was shooting at them and there were no bombs dropping out of the sky. They spoke with good English and the older girl whom we walked with was just happy that she could do something to support her mother and family.
As we left the tent, they hugged us and bid us farewell. In my heart, I felt helplessness. I could see four young children without a childhood they deserved, without an education they have a right too, without a home that would give then security. The question I had in my mind was what will their future be like?
As we continued our journey we met many other refuges who were frustrated of the political system that was keeping them in these camps. People who were probably being treated far worse than even animals would be. It was sad to see so many people trying to be patient with political system that is so warped and has lost the real meaning of humanity and humanitarian support.
Later, we went to ‘the jungle’ in Calais. We managed to watch a small service in the ‘jungle church’ as well as have some conversations with refugees that were staying in the camps. One half of the convoy team were also able to share their experiences of distributions within the camp. Some od the stories were quiet sad to hear. It was evident people living in this camp for a considerable amount of time were frustrated and in some cases were losing a little hope in things getting better. Here we set up a trailer tent which was a great experience. Putting up a home for a family was a wonderful feeling as it meant some people were going to be given a home which would bring them some comfort amidst the troubles they are facing.
Seven of us spent the weekend supporting Refugees in Calais. I was back with memories of new experiences, new friends and most importantly supporting a cause which I knew very little about.
On reflection, the weekend was all about human connection.
For me personally, I learnt what a strong young woman I am and how much I have to offer to the world I live in. To have gone a journey where I didn’t know any of the people, was the only woman in the group, I was working together with them as a team, leaving behind all religion, culture, colour, national or political interests and focusing on the compassion we have as human beings within us and on what we give and receive as human from human. I felt incredibly proud and honoured to be part of this connection and to have met and gone with a wonderful team of people whom I now consider as friends.
Miss Munira Gheewala
REFLECTION on the 6th/7th February 2016 TRIP
Update: Trip 15th/16 February 2016
On the 8th February...
I was asked by another supporter, Rob Crook, if I could move 250 Floor Boards to Dunkirk.
They are urgently needed to build a Comunity Hall.
This project is planed for the new Camp outside Dunkirk and the aim is to move the Refugees out of the mud and into more stable tents on a more secure ground.
"Well," I said, "Yes, of course I can."
And here we go.
I picked up all the material in Malvern and commenced driving to Dunkirk.
In addition, I also was getting loads of donations: shoes, sleeping bags, tents, blankets, winter clothing and more. This was overwhelming! So thank you to all.
Also, I managed again to fit in a tonne of apples!
Gloucester Bike Project again supported us with some bicycles.
Safe to say, I am very, very proud!