A DAY TRIP TO CALAIS
A main street. The only one. Around a jungle of tents and rubbish.
Mud, restaurants, shops. I am in the afghan area together with four others for a day trip from Southern England to the ‘new jungle’ in Calais. The new jungle is a refugee camp where about 5000 people, mostly young men, after a long journey, already close to their target, England, stop in front of a wall.
I go into a slum of six young people. Marta, a nineteen year old girl is cooking for the bunch. “I left Eritrea one year ago. I went through my country, Sudan and Egypt mostly on foot. Then, through North Africa by auto stop. I paid for a “jump” by boat to Italy, then crossed Europe by train up until the English Channel”.
End of the dream. The wall. Police. Fence. More people arriving daily. A few smuggling themselves in a lorry hidden by the night’s darkness. Marta has some questions. Where can I sleep? Who has a tent? It is getting cold. I need clothes and walking boots. Many organisations, caritas, doctors, deliverers of food, cleaners of very few toilets.
She is stirring some ingredients in a casserole. “Marta, why do you want to get to England? This is not going to be an easy thing to do…” “Well, relatives are waiting for me in London; in addition English is easier than German”. “You are cooking well. Would you like to cook something for us and we give you some money?” Once again smiling: “Just stay with us, but not for money, you can be our guest”.
Touché! I pretend to be generous. She opens her slum to me.
Sometimes its brass monkeys over there. If you want to just help them, have a look on http://www.calaidipedia.co.uk/site/calaisaid/donations. You can send stuff that is needed directly to them.
If you want to break the wall, take the boxes yourself. Three hours from London. Stay with them, chat with them, be one among them for some hours. It will be one of the best used days of your life. You will see the disarmed beauty. The way chosen by a man 2000 years ago to make happen what most don’t dare to hope. You will break a wall. Within yourself.
[A guest post by Fr José Clavería, November 2015]