Regular CamCRAG volunteer Mark reports back on another successful CamCRAG convoy weekend in Calais…
“So I’m back from another CamCRAG convoy. ‘Nice’ seems the wrong word to use for a weekend helping refugees in Calais, but how else do I describe the atmosphere and people at L’Auberge des Migrants. If you ever need confirmation that there are truly good, kind, giving, considerate, humans on this planet, pop over sometime and lend a hand for a day or two.
“Every time I’ve been over it’s the same but different. Same smells of excellent food coming from Refugee Community Kitchen all day, but they now have a new kitchen, much more organised and easy to clean. Same routine on a Saturday morning, just a different set of sorting tasks to do. Same universally tolerant attitude to all comers, just different faces. We started with a huge pile of garlic, onions and other tasty fresh vegetables to prep: At the weekends it helps to give the kitchen a stockpile for the week, when there are fewer volunteers.
“After that I went on to sorting tents with half a dozen or so fellow CamCRAG volunteers. Donated tents come in all sizes, shapes and states of repair. Every one is unpacked, erected, examined and either passed as a safe dry, usable tent, condemned as useless, or repaired. The condemned are cannibalised for spares, the groundsheets are cut out and used as tarpaulins by the refugees. We lost count of the number of tents we sorted: I was doing the triaging, sorting through the poleless and obviously broken ones before handing over to our crack team of CamCRAG tent inspectors.
“All I could hear was laughter at yet another design without instruction: Who knew there was so many ways to fold up a popup tent?
“Most importantly, we made sure that the aid going out is clean and of good enough quality to do the job: For me, that’s just a matter of respect for those in need.”
If you’ve been on a convoy and would like to talk about your experiences, we are holding a facilitated debrief evening next Tuesday, 23 January, at City Church on Cheddars Lane – all welcome.