Why I needed this experience


So it’s been 5 days in the refugee camp, so many stories that don’t know where to start. Day starts at 10 am with reporting in the warehouse of Care4calle Organisation. Before lunch we do sorting of donations and clothes and after lunch is distribution and other activities in the camp, which is about 15 min drive from the warehouse. What has struck me most is the courage and resilience of the refugees, mostly young between 17- 30 years, they don’t want charity but an opportunity to rebuild there lives again.
I came here to spend a week but seems like I will be here for a month. Working on an art project to be showcased end of this week. We got letters written by Children in UK which would be displayed with art created by refugees in the camp. So this whole week I have been working on getting more art work from the refugees and putting them all together. It gave me an opportunity to talk to them, hear their stories and connect with them personally. We also did a kite making workshop with volunteers Joanne and John, with messages written on kites, symbolizing freedom and souring spirit. I also thought of creating prayer flags and did some experiments around it today. I asked some of them, what gives you ‘sukun’, brigs peace to your heart and one of them replied, memories of my mother, for some it was the name of God and for some it was love in their hearts.
Their paintings reflected memories of their villages, small activities like flying kites and playing sport, journey so far and the hope of a better future. Slowly I have been getting comfortable taking pictures, with their permissions.
To be able to speak in Hindi with brothers from Afghanistan and Pakistan, made me come so much closer to them. This is my first time when I am meeting so closely with families from our neighboring countries and felt our closeness without any borders.
I needed this experience, it’s helping me get grounded. To see life as a beautiful way of service, to feel our interconnection and to be able to move from me to we.
I needed this to realize I am not alone in my struggle, we as a humanity are one and if my friend, brother or neighbor is suffering them I need to help him, not just because it is a good thing to do but my life and wellbeing is connected with his and if his house is burning and I don’t help him then sooner or later that fire will burn my house too.
I need this to reconnect with myself and as I do it slowly I reconnect with my world.
I came here to spend a week, now extending it for a month, but the memories will be etched in my heart for ever. I wonder aren’t we all in a way refugees, searching for our true place in this vast world, searching for love and our own unique self.
The warehouse of Care4callais.
Art work in one of the cafe in camp.
Art workshop – remembering his village and home in Pakistan.
With brothers from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Friends from various countries wrote it for me in different language.
Originally published on Madhu’s personal blog – In Journey. Follow his blog as he shares his volunteering experience in Calais.

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