e972a1_61eb57a68d7448d596ade28d3807876dA work commitment meant a late arrival to ‘The Jungle’.  A weary ferry ride with a glass of red wine and six coach loads of young teenagers. Unaware of anything but their friends and their selfies. Unaware of how lucky they were.

A loud clank, the thud of car doors and five minutes to our destination.

A muddy field with a title.

No artificial lighting and it was sudden darkness. Just the silhouettes of tents, of people darting here and there, a sense of busyness. Small pockets of flames flickering, the smell of firewood and a dampness to the air.

Then an estate car, our family car filled with boxes of shoes and a couple of bikes drove in and parked. Misplaced between two iconic tents. As the car doors shut no words were necessary, just wide eyes attempting to absorb every detail. Trying to make sense of it. Guiding me through a natural uneasiness built purely on ignorance.

What do I know of uneasiness?

Dawn breaks and families emerge from tents. For some their epic journey across Europe ended only last night. A little girl in her mother’s shoes. A baby in his father’s arms. Nothing but the clothes they arrived in. Strangers in a foreign field.

How grateful they were for the little we brought. Shoes to fit their little girl, a warm hat for their baby and a saucepan to cook with. Basic things which evoked huge smiles of hope from those who received them.

For how long will this be their home?

Then we walked further into the camp greeted by beaming smiles and offers of tea as we distributed fresh fruit. Oranges and apples obviously a tasty treat for a diet of tinned donations.

Finally, a shelter, which our team built for 7 women. Somewhere to keep them safe, dry and a little warmer. A ray of hope and security in a male dominated camp.

The weather was kind and the sun shined over the weekend, echoing the faces of the many people we met.

Positive energies, strong motivations, kindness and gratitude for everything we did. Amazing people who left me with a warm fuzziness of hope, hugging my heart and my soul.

But what now? Autumn has settled in. I watch the wind blow and think of those flimsy tents. I listen to the rain fall for hours and think of the boggy fields and the puddles.  I draw my coat around me and think of the people in flip flops. I also think of those still arriving or some still walking.

We will go next weekend taking smiles, food and warmth. Maybe the sun will be shining?

Winter is poised and ready. What tricks it has up its sleeve nobody yet knows.