This week I became involved with the group Calais Refugee Donors Group. The Bristol organiser is Michelle Sharpe. She makes dental plates and will be travelling with others to Calais 15th September to make the drop.
Within less than 48hrs I have seem a rapid emergence of other groups in Bristol and across the UK intent on providing aid to refugees.
And let’s be very clear about the word refugee, these people are not immigrants. They have been forced out of their homeland because of violence, torture, war, loss, rape and, total destruction of all they have worked for. They do not choose to flee their country, abandon their culture of hard work and care for extended families so they can obtain benefits or a better lifestyle.
On Social Media comments have appeared which highlight the ignorance of the blinkered public. One woman asked why ‘parents are putting their children in danger.’
Somali Poet Warsan Shire sums up the risk in one stanza of her poem Home.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
Yesterday the image of young Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach, near Bodrum appeared on the front page of every UK Tabloid. The Name Aylan means powerful and complete.
I stood in Waitrose, water leaking out of my eyes. In my shopping basket were basic toiletries: toothpaste, soap, tampons, shampoo; items on a list sourced from The Calais Refugees Donors Group.
Outside Waitrose was a young Asian Woman, selling copies of The Big Issue in an affluent area. She’s there most days, is ignored by most. I don’t know why she’s here in this country but I gave her a sandwich and small change.
When I finally arrived home I had bought waterproof jackets, trainers, jeans, woolly hats, belts, fleece jumpers, rucksacks and a sleeping bag from charity shops by getting on and off buses on the route I travel to visit my daughter who has been ill for over a year.
I am reliant on benefits, pain killers and a mobility scooter to give me the quality of life I am so lucky to be able to enjoy. I live in sheltered accommodation in a gated community, which means I am safe and secure from life’s atrocities.
Today I delivered a small load of aid to a woman who makes dental plates so people can retain their identity and eat.
I am not a Christian. Yet a glaring oxymoron exists when a small boy beaches on the same shores the Gospel is reputed to have washed up on and the world is flooded with a dead child’s message.