“How was your journey Mummy”
This is what my youngest, Oscar, asked me as it all downstairs last night when I got home. As I went upstairs to finish off the bedtime story, Oscar asked me for an extra big snuggle. I’ve been away for three days, and he’d miss me. I thought about the mother I’d seen on BBC2 Exodus last week. The mother that was having to leave behind her children so that she could travel to Germany and they could follow.I thought about the mother I’ve seen on the street heading up to Gard du Nord in Paris. She too was snuggling her child, just on a cold pavement with no house. She too would had a journey, but not in any way similar to mine. I thought about mothers, and that instinct to protect. How awful it must be to not have the tools or the environment to do that.
When we arrived in Paris on Tuesday, we met with Heather and Kelvin. A committed duo, out every night from 11.30 distributing items to those in need. They’ve both pressed pause on their lives, Heather, rarely takes her eyes of her phone, while are the requests come flooding in. She can’t relax, She won’t take a day off in case somebody needs her. Kelvin, talks about the storeroom, talks about how worried they are for the winter. They talk about the CRS. These militant police that come and remove sleeping bags, tarpaulins and belongings from refugees. They are Paris Refugee Ground Support They are incredible.
Some friends arrive who we haven’t seen for a long time, the wonderful Wren, Who works tirelessly for @phonecreditforrefugees. And darling Faisal, who we knew from camp. And Afghan who volunteered with the refugee youth service and is now in Paris working as a taxi driver. A true diamond.
Danika arrives, and we travel Solidarithé an organisation that simply takes tea and coffee to refugees throughout Paris. Such a simple but desperately valuable idea.
Danika then takes us to one of the canals in Paris. She shows is under the bridges in quite an up market, hipster area of town. We can see under the bridges, where the refugees try to stash their belongings during the day. They tuck them right up underneath the bridge in the hope that they will still be there that night so that they may climb into a sleeping bag, one layer warmer from the freezing nights.
We spent the rest of the evening with Heather and Kelvin discussing the best ways we can help and support the situation.
Wednesday morning, we met with some other friends that we knew from the camp in the jungle. Many, now claiming asylum in France. For one of our friends, he has no money. He is having to borrow off another pal. He can’t work, and his existence is dull and on interesting. He travelled for 2 1/2 hours to have a coffee with me. I topped his phone up for him and bung him €60.
Our journey started coming back on train, and then on the Eurotunnel and M20 back to London. My journey was done in luxury, warm, a bottle of water and the odd biscuit. A toilet, clean, that I could use when I needed.
“How was your journey Mummy? How were the refugees?”
“My journey, Oscar, was better than you can possibly imagine. The refugees, they need our love and kindness, for their journeys are the worst of everything”
#refugees #chooselove #exodus