This past weekend, I traveled to Calais to volunteer with Help Refugees, a grassroots nonprofit that provides meals, clothing, firewood, and education to the migrants taking refuge in Calais and Dunkirk. After learning about the inhumane treatment of the unaccompanied minors by the British and French government at the documentary screening Calais Children: A Case to Answer, I decided that I needed to do something. I needed to find out what was going on and how I could help.
Here’s what I found out:
In April 2016, the government voted down the Dubs immigration bill, an amendment put in place during World War II that allowed the kindertransport to take plan, which would have accepted 3,000 children refugees into Britain. After Help Refugees appealed to the court, the government finally approved in February 2017 that 350 unaccompanied children would be accepted. These children had the right to be in the UK, and yet due to government inaction, they remained in the Jungle waiting. They were there when the police razed the camp in October 2016, setting fire to their homes. Many of the children went missing. Only 200 children as of June 2017 have been relocated and as of January 2018, 260 places remain unfilled. On February 28 and March 1, there will be a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice asking to let the refugee children in.
Volunteering in Calais was an incredibly moving experience; I met inspiring individuals who are taking action and getting organized. I spent the weekend in the kitchen chopping onions and singing in the Refugee Community Kitchen. I will be sharing more about this in later posts, but there is just too much to say! I wrote over 8,000 words in my journal, and I don’t want to overwhelm you…
I am planning another trip to volunteer in April. If you are interested in volunteering or want more information about what is going on, please email me. They need our help.