“[The volunteers] are people who have nothing else to do with their time and so instead disrupt public order, [and] provoke institutions. They are using people in distress and manipulating the migrants. It’s not about helping them.”
Natacha Bouchart, Calais Mayor
The sun has been back out this week, and with it a false sense of security and warmth. At lunchtime I play cricket in the sunshine with a couple of Afghan boys (and despite having not played cricket since school, and being pretty crap at it even then, I manage not to embarrass myself too much). In the afternoon, we wrap bruised hands from falling off of lorries or police violence. We get excited that the BBC now offers news in Tigrinya and Afaan Oromo. A boy uses my phone to watch videos on Youtube, singing along in Pashto, his hospital bracelet dangling on his wrist. In the evening, I meet A. who wants to improve his English, and asks us each day to bring reading material and books.
This conversation followed a lengthier discussion in which J. was worried about a letter he had been given following his arrest the previous night. After explaining that he was in no worse a situation than he had been in prior to the arrest, and if anything he was lucky that he hadn’t been deported or detained, he was keen to learn about the asylum process in the UK. I did my best to answer this for him, without encouraging him, and as I was doing so B. appeared asking about the asylum process in Canada. I apologised that I wasn’t clued up at all as to how Canada operated (I’m barely sure about the UK) but it led to an unsettling conversation about the lengths to which people will go to in pursuit of happiness. (If anybody know anything about anyone who has made this or a similar journey, please let me know). Continue reading