World Medicine will soon begin a new project supporting refugees in London. To mark this new venture for us, our Guest Blog today is written by Sasiki Hubberstey, who, in 2017 was one of hundreds of volunteers who served meals to refugees in the infamous ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais. Sasiki recently made a ‘virtual’ return visit to Calais as part of our team of ‘Chaparda Challenge‘ walkers covering the distance from York to Chaparda in India, so we asked her to recall her time working in the Refugee Community Kitchen.
Refugee Community Kitchen, Calais, 2017
That was the provision for the refugees stranded in the forest squats around Calais and Dunkirk when I volunteered several times in the RCK kitchen that year. Huge platefuls of rice and curry, salads, condiments, freshly cooked twice a day – with a good dollop of love and singing thrown in – by a team of volunteers, some long term, others, like me, for a week/weekend/month at a time.
Lone teenagers, families with babies, lone men, and a few lone women, from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Sudan…. Dispersed across France when ‘The Jungle’ had been destroyed the year before, gradually making their way back, to restore their hope to reach family/friends in UK.
76% of the refugees that RCK asked had had their meagre belongings destroyed by a branch of the police twice every week, at night, since their arrival. Tents destroyed, shoes removed, pepper sprayed. Many had been there for months.
RCK provided food. No judgement, no questions. (Others provided tents, shoes, jackets, chargers for mobiles, medical aid etc). A wonderfully heartfelt, positive, committed, well-organised, daily operation of a scale I’d never seen before! Twelve hour days of prepping vast pots of veg and taking out to the forest squats twice a day, to the long long queues, surrounded by police. And washing up, cleansing floors and work surfaces, doing laundry. And starting again early the next day.
In such extremities, such warmth, such gentleness, gratitude, love, humility. One of the most moving places to be, ever. Thank you RCK x
Click below to watch a video on the work of the Refugee Community Kitchen.