Tents, toothbrushes and karaoke

october 2023 convoy tent checking

Ali reports on October’s convoy to Calais.

Last weekend I went on my second trip to Calais with CamCRAG. Once again I joined on my own, but was of course immediately felt welcome by everyone else in the group.

On the Friday night we met up in the pub to give everyone a chance to get to know each other: Both times I have been to Calais this has been a really enjoyable and appreciated part of the trip, fostering good energy and a relaxed atmosphere which lasts the weekend.

october 2023 convoy tent checkingThe following morning we left the hostel at 9.30am. Our first task at the warehouse was unloading the donations from the our cars (and one motorhome!) These included a lot of tents which we spent much of the day checking. This process is not as simple as it sounds especially if, like me, you’ve never put up a tent before: Once the tent is erected, each zip needs to be checked, the cleanliness inspected, and its structural integrity tested to make sure it can withstand the winter weather.

While carrying out this task, you naturally imagine what it would be like if you were to spend a night, or many nights, in the tent in the current weather, and through this you empathise even more with the people the tents are intended for. This brings feeling of sadness, but also adds purpose to what you are doing, and overall it is a very rewarding task.

Although repetitive, the light-hearted conversation between the volunteers prevents it from becoming mundane. The end-of-day exhaustion definitely added to my satisfaction that we had made a worthwhile effort, and justified the karaoke singing in the evening.

On Sunday we travelled to the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) centre in Calais. Here our task was to pack hygiene bags with soap, shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a razor: Items that will really make a difference in people’s daily lives. Most of us departed at around 3pm in time to make the crossing back to the UK.

I personally left feeling very positive about the help we had provided the permanent volunteers in Calais, hopeful that we had made a difference, and excited to get involved with future CamCRAG projects on both sides of the channel.

october 2023 convoy rack of tents