By Sr Christine, fcJ
On Monday 20th May five of us from Neighbors in Poplar, based at St. Matthias Community Centre in London, spent a day with Care4Calais, a volunteer run charity delivering essential aid and support to refugees living in the worst conditions across Northern France and Belgium.
We had brought a minibus full of water bottles – over 3,000 and 150 boxes of dates! We were very fortunate to reach the Warehouse just as the group was planning to go out to a distribution point. We transferred the cartons of dates off our minibus onto the Care4Calais vehicle, listened to the Health and Safety Policies and set off in convoy with the Charity.
We stopped in a country lane outside Calais where a make shift day camp was in operation. A generator was unloaded so that refugees could charge their phones. A group, funded by the Council, was distributing hot food and bread, Care4Calais had bottles of water and our boxes of dates. We were all involved in distributing the food to a very orderly line up of mostly young men from Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. Within ten minutes our 150 boxes of dates had been given out and we knew most were keeping them until later in the evening when they would break their fast.
Many expressed their thanks to us for coming. They looked worn, tired, thin, despairing and we felt very humbled and grateful to God for our own relatively safe lives.
We wondered how these unfortunate people can keep going, even giving us a grateful smile, when really they have little grounds for hope. No one wants them and they dare not go back to where they came from.
Because we had spent so long on the distribution centre we had no time for the RCK and had to make it back to the Euro Tunnel. We got a bit lost on the way and had to go several miles out of our way to get back on track, the satnav decided to go on strike! However we made it back to the Euro tunnel in time. We reached home just in time for two of our group to break their fast. All agreed we had had a very satisfying day.
A big thank you to all who support these trips with their donations. Our next trip will be on June 20th, leaving Poplar at 6.45am.
Photo credit: Care4Calais website