Anthony & Tham Volunteering in Calais

Note: we will be at the ‘Jungle’ from 10/3/16 to 14/3/16 and any donations received by 8am 10/3 (Thursday) will be put to use then. Any donations received after this date will be spent at the end of the 30 day JustGiving campaign (https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/antandthamcalais). Thanks so much.

Short version:

We (Anthony and Thamim) are volunteering at the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais from Thursday 10th to Sunday 13th March. We are covering all of our personal costs but are trying to raise some additional funds to purchase much-needed supplies like blankets, shoes, clothes and basic food for the desperate refugees including many unaccompanied children. Any sized donation is much appreciated, but ideally needs to be pledged by 8am 10th March in order for us to ensure the supplies are successfully delivered. Thanks so much in advance. A & T.

Long version:

Dear friends and family,

It has been impossible, especially in recent months to be unaware of the plight of refugees fleeing Syria and other Middle Eastern countries to seek relative safety in Europe. Faced with levels of danger and desperation that most of us cannot even fathom, men, women and children have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean to Greece, Italy and their islands before continuing their journey into mainland Europe through risky routes, often being taken advantage of by illegal smugglers.

A small, but still significant portion of these people have made it to Calais on the north coast of France and are currently living in an area known as the ‘Jungle’. As of today, an estimated 4,000–6,000 refugees inhabit the area, living in tents and makeshift shelters that the communities have build themselves, but conditions are still dire, with limited access to water, food, heating and sanitation.

Although much more could be said on this topic, the French authorities are currently in the process of ‘dismantling’ the south half of the camp, including many core community services. They are rehousing some into unheated converted shipping containers and wooden shacks, but it would seem nowhere near enough. This is just to say that the situation seems to be getting worse, not better overall. It is not a solution.

Many of these refugees want to eventually make it to the UK; many travel there simply to be with their displaced communities, but whatever the reason, we (Thamin and Anthony) feel compelled to help from a humanitarian perspective and will be volunteering at the distribution warehouse and/or in-camp (wherever we’re needed the most) with the L’auberge Des Migrants https://www.facebook.com/laubergedesmigrantsinternational/ charity from Thursday 10th to Sunday 13th March, spending 3 full days there. L’auberge build shelters, feed the camp’s residents and provide supplies among many other great activities.

We are covering all of our own costs of travel, accommodation etc. but are trying to raise some additional funds to purchase much-needed supplies like blankets, shoes, clothes and basic food for the desperate refugees including many unaccompanied children.

The JustGiving platform is set up for campaigns running 30 days and more, but we ideally want the aid to get there this weekend, whilst we are on-site. Therefore, we will be personally covering all donations pledged by 8am on Thursday 10th March, minus JustGiving’s 5% administration fee. This means that we will place an order with our chosen retailers from our own money on the 10th and then reimburse ourselves when the funds are released after the 30 days. We’ll post up receipts and bank records to show this transparently. The retailers will likely be http://www.leisurefayre.com/section.php/86100/1/help_refugees and a local supermarket, but to be confirmed. Any suggestions are very welcome. Any additional donations received after this time will be forwarded by us to L’auberge or the Calais Kitchen https://www.facebook.com/calaiskitchens/?fref=ts .

Upon our return, at least one of us will write up an account of our experience and share it here with you.

Thank you so much for reading this and in advance for any donations you’re able to make. Every £1 we can raise at the moment means a lot more than we realise to these people.

Anthony & Thamin