Last week finally saw toilet and showering facilities installed at the main site outside the emergency centre in Grande-Synthe. This victory came as a result of months of hard work from La Cimade, L'Auberge des Migrants, PSM and several other grassroots organisations and individuals.
Ever since I left Syria, I wanted to learn, I wanted to educate myself. I knew education was, and still is, the most important thing when it comes to change our situation. That is why I always dreamed of going to the best university. During our escape from Syria, I finished my last year of high school in Turkey, but I left just before the final exams.
I had the pleasure of meeting the very wonderful Chrissie and Gerard of SOS Chai who are busy in the Caen/Ouistreham area of northern France. Here they’re working with locals and international volunteers to bring good food, a warm welcome, respect and a lot of care and compassion to the few hundred mostly African kids surviving homeless in the area as unsupported asylum seekers.
Day 3 and time to visit the old and new Collective Aid warehouses where stock includes industrial kitchen equipment, ready to be mobilised quickly if numbers on the streets increase (as has happened before), tents, sleeping bags and blankets, clothes and more. Not to mention two pallets of 3XL waterproofs!
Day 1 from Zeleznik just outside Belgrade in Serbia and my first impressions are of a pretty place, friendly, with the happiest of street dogs, and surprisingly warm weather. Being a Sunday, and a generally quieter time for daytime activities in respect of Ramadan, Clark Schofield, Director at Collective Aid and I took the opportunity to catch up over a morning coffee.
Standing outside in a dusty clearing following a simple and fair registration process so that more than 1,000 men can receive much-needed aid of t-shirt, trousers, underwear, socks and a jumper. This is our first day of distribution at the Vathy Refugee Camp on the Greek island of Samos where people are living in appalling conditions, without even the most basic services.