Anna shares her experience of volunteering in Calais, reflecting on her fifth Convoy in March.
Another month, another CamCRAG convoy – and a fifth trip over to Calais for me, exactly a year since my first. People often ask what we get up to when we’re over there, and I sometimes feel myself wanting to make it sound more glamorous than it is. Let’s be real, when we get to the warehouse (L’Auberge des Migrants), they’re thrilled for us to do the jobs they never get time to even think about.
Bystanders might expect us to be going ‘into the field’ and experiencing face to face contact with displaced people there (this does occasionally happen, but is rare). When thirty of us arrive at the Warehouse, what they really want us to do is clean, sort, scrub, wipe, wash up… you get the gist.
We’re not there to make ourselves feel better about the awful situation that continues over there. We’re there to make an impact – and we’ll jump right into whatever they need us to do.Anna Kent, CamCRAG Volunteer
Last month I spent a day cleaning out a lot of jerry cans and IBCs (intermediate bulk containers) for drinking, cooking and washing water. And the other day was spent bagging spices – taking cumin, paprika, cinnamon and salt from huge bulk bags and packing it up into portions for large groups – to see them through the week. We also found three newborn kittens, but that’s a side note…
As I was leaving in March, one of the long-term volunteers gave me a hug and said ‘you really do make a difference, you know’. That’s why we do it. Not for the glamour, not for the face-to-face contact with refugees. But because it helps the people working directly with them to do what they need to do, day in, day out.
Our completed to do list!