Only 4 months ago I set off to Calais as a normal mum with my car full of aid and toys for refugee children. I had no idea that what I was about to witness would change my life forever. My heart was broken. I left a part of myself behind with the children I met there, and Refugee Child was born. You can read a small bit about my experience at that time here.
Since then thousands of people have got involved and over £50,000 has been raised by us for refugee children. This is our Calais appeal. Some amazing things have been achieved. Please join us. YOU CAN make a difference. Add yourself to the Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/RefugeeChild/
We would love to hear from you.
Growing numbers of children (0-16) are living in increasingly squalid conditions in a huge makeshift camp for refugees in Calais known as "The Jungle". Some children as young as 10 and 11 are alone with no parents. They have fled war, poverty and oppression.
Aid workers say living conditions for children in Calais have worsened with a lack of food, blankets, shelter and medical care leading to desperate conditions.
“It is very difficult,” said Bahad, who arrived at the camp by himself. “We get one meal a day but you have to queue for many hours for it and sometimes it finishes before you get to the front.” He said he had not eaten since the day before. “Everyone here is always hungry,” he said. One of our volunteers witnessed an unaccompanied 12 year old trying to eat paper because he was so hungry.
Another report from someone who visited "The Jungle"
"Last week I travelled to Calais. There I met a 14-year-old boy from Syria who was in a wheelchair. He had broken both legs trying to make it to Britain, and was alone. He was not much older than my children, but had already suffered more misery and experienced more danger than any of us could imagine......it was no place for a child".
These children experience ongoing psychological trauma as a result of: the awful circumstances that caused them to leave their home, the journey they endured and their current precarious living conditions. With the best of intentions, people turn up to the camp in order to work with these children or befriend them for a few days. Research shows that starting a project with traumatised children and dropping it again does more harm than good. They need some sort of structure and routine. Help should be in an appropriate, well planned out manner. There are also serious protection issues as not just anyone should work with these vulnerable children who are so open to abuse.
What are we doing?
We are proud to be working with Mitrajectoires, a non profit association, for a sustainable project that has had the go ahead from the relevant agencies officially appointed to deal with children in the camp. A lot of time has been taken to make sure this is an appropriate approach and a huge children's charity, who contacted us, have also been offering help and advice.
The project aims are to provide a safe place for: psychological support, play, education and child protection.
Consistent, trained volunteers travel on a regular basis to work with the children in different areas of the camp. Activities so far have included puppet making, story telling, painting, relaxation techniques and much more. They have had the opportunity to learn, play, relax and interact with each other in a safe informal environment. It is a chance, even if only for a short time, for them to be children again.
We have fully funded the start up of this project - everything from getting the volunteers to the camp with art and craft supplies, to a piece of fruit and fruit juice for every child at the workshops. With your help we will continue to support it and help it grow. We currently have enough to keep it running for a good few months but hopefully, it will be running for as long as the children need it.
Here is a news letter after the first 4 weeks of workshops entitled "creating smiles in Calais".
Thank you to everyone that has donated to help the children in Calais so far and we hope you continue to do so. There's so much more that they need.
All Refugee Child staff are volunteers. No money is spent on wages. We are a non political group who believe that children in desperate conditions deserve our help no matter how they came to needing it. Children do not choose to leave their homes. Children do not choose to be orphaned due to their parents being dead. Children are children
Due to the ever changing nature of the refugee crisis, Refugee Child reserves the right to allocate funds to different areas than those stated.
We will only do this in exceptional situations where there is a greater immediate need in another location.
Funds will always be used for the same or similar purposes and always in line with our charitable objects: ... "the prevention or relief of poverty of child refugees