The day we set off, it turned out our venue in the Dunkirk camp was being closed by the authorities! This is a classic example of life in the camps; volunteers and/or organisations try to set up a place where children can be on a regular basis for education and activities and to provide a bit of stability, only for the authorities to pull it down. And the volunteers start over again.
Despite this, the attitude and enthusiasm of the volunteers is still great – but they need help and a constant feed of new activities and/or entertainment to keep the children positively occupied.
A common response to us was “Thank goodness you’re here – this means I get a chance to work on…” etc.
We feel that a communal space for the young refugees to meet regularly is crucial to their well being and to help them come to terms with their situation. It would also help to curb the mindless wandering, looking for something to do – this is where an already dire situation could get worse.
CWI managed to achieve everything we set out to do: we provided workshops and performances to the camps at Dunkirk (18 – 19th), Calais (20th) and at a special site for particularly vulnerable Kurdish and Farsi families (21st). We also delivered a trailer full of aid on behalf of RAISE – Refugee Action in Somerset East to the aid distribution warehouse in Calais and funding from Not Pointless to Dunkirk Kids’ Welfare and the Calais Women and Children’s Centre.
“Thank you! It was fantastic to have you all here – really positive, fun energy! Just what everyone needed. And at the right time too – your performances were the first large gatherings of people we’ve had in the new camp and perfect timing with New Year.”
Lydia, Maktab School, Dunkirk Kids Welfare