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Sunday, 21 August 2016


So. Calais.
We are going out this weekend to drop off aid; it will be my Calais-iversary- a year exactly since I first got actively involved.
And more people than ever before are living in that toxic, inhumane, shameful place.

As I fill a bin bag with dead rats and rotting food, I try very hard not to think about the family asleep just the other side of the canvas - a family which could very well be mine: mum and dad; adored toddler exploring the world, curious and bright eyed, turning everything into an adventure.
As I walk past the huts to drop off food, I block from my mind the eight and nine year olds I know live just behind there, alone, terrified, hungry, prey to the most vicious things the human mind can imagine. Children disappear in that place. Just disappear. Let's not think about that.
As I laugh and hug a friend by the medical caravans, I slam shut the door in my head which knows what they see in those caravans: scabies; trench foot; self harm injuries; TB; cuts and bruises from truncheons; head wounds and burns from tear gas and rubber bullets fired at people at point blank range; refugees eating tissues to silence the hunger pangs.  See, not treat- as treatment would be against the rules. What is happening to these people, apparently less of a concern than the rules.
Every so often something breaks through: the story of the Syrian mother separated from her tiny child as the lorry door closed before her baby could be handed to her. The old afghan man who gripped my arm and told me he was going to die there (I couldn't find him on the next trip- I have no idea what happened to him). The kind-eyed man who insisted on putting his gloves on my hands on a wet January day. Those fucking fences.
And the thing I avoid thinking about the most is the fact that each volunteer- each completely ordinary mum, student, actor, architect, shopkeeper, doctor- is doing more than our entire government. The fact that these people are being kept alive by a ragtag army of volunteers from all round the world. Because that is the most terrifying, upsetting thing of all.
Calais is hell and history will judge us for it.

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