merseyaid in calais - sept 2015


Let’s put an end to suffering world-wide!

*****Captains Log T minus Day 1 7pm*****

Well a few weeks ago we will all drawn together to help the refugees around the world. In this time we have helped local people with food, clothes, duvets and blankets, we have raised money for food bags and will buy some bits at the camp tomorrow.
Been off work today sick. Migraines that will not shift. But tried to get these finished for tomorrow
God knows how many we now have. This is just some off them smile emoticon
Can't believe we off to the jungle tomorrow Keep us in your thoughts and if you want to donate some money to our cousins in Calais to help with shelter etc please do so x

*****Captains Log Day 1 13:47pm*****

Well we all on route to Calais!!

Was on a complete hyper this morning and slowly starting to think about what we will come across and how shit it is that people live like this.

In regular contact with people on the ground so they know we are coming and know what we have so please don't panic about our aid being wasted.

Taking over £1000 in cash with more to come so that's great for some fresh fruit tomorrow.

Few hours from Dover but will keep you all updated with how we doing xx


****captains log day 2 7:49am*****
So we all arrived safe last night and dropped everyone at hotels. Note to self:- all book same hotels - apart hotel Tudor - shit hole!!
Few went out last night but me and Phil where shattered so stayed in and spoke to team on ground via text and PM. Warehouse tomorrow 9am is the plan. But nervous we are packed well but we have mix of stuff everywhere due to sheer volumes!

Up now and lying wondering what we will see today. Don't think am really prepared for how horrible this is going to be. From a living perspective. People will be amazing but the camp and the need to live like this.

Bought some fresh hummus and olives as requested so looking forward to making people happy with some nice this like this - heart breaking already.

Press interviews at 8:30. So best get to hair and makeup 
...remember camera adds like 40lbs!! 
Will keep you all posted as often as I can xxx

****captains log day 2 6pm****

We rocked up to the warehouse this morning and well to be totally honest felt un welcome and unwanted.

I felt totally awkward and despite planning it well felt we hadn't. When we had. A swop of staff in the warehouse meant the message of our arrival didn't get through and 20 plus team of scouters just felt a bit unwanted.
Anyway we tried to crack on and spilt in two. Half stayed to empty and sort the already packed warehouse and half went to camp
Nothing prepares u for the jungle. It's like nothing you have ever seen.

There is shops, bars and restaurants, church's, mosques and alike. We started jungle clean up after a few of us where welcome for breakfast by a local lad who lives at the start of the camp. Nice spicey veg curry - how can people who have nothing be so bloody welcoming and giving? - yet in the uk we have no room? No schools? Etc

The people in the camp are chatty, friendly and welcoming. It's like a holiday camp but no order to it. There's loads of men washing clothes, brushing teeth, just normal life going on.

The fullness of the shops and number of them is upsetting as whilst I understand commerce and these aren't necessarily poor people it just feels odd.

Lisa and I decide we need shovels and go off. End up chatting to a group of men needing shoes. Shoes -no one wants anything other than shoes. We get a list as the more gather round. Ave managed not to cry yet. Tears aren't needed people are. So brain is ruling. Then I see a young lad 10/12 years old needing shoes and at that point I break down. I think the men where very shocked that one min we all ok then bang tears and me and lisa are gone. We quickly escape and tears change to anger.

We are now livid. Why the fuck is that warehouse full of stuff and these people need it!! Why we boxing it all and not distributing it all? We decide to go rogue and go get items and bring back. More on this later
We go back to the warehouse and get the others so we go to so the food distribution. That goes well and phil and his girls do a great job on the love bus clearing the camping stuff.

But we all concerned is it getting to the right people?. Me and lisa are thinking we need to get lists of what people want and go back in - so lisa gets the stuff for the blokes we met and off she goes - along with some new clothes for the young boy. - how wrong could that go?! Shocking - a plan that failed and despite mine and Lisa's views we have to put stuff in the warehouse!! Am gutted!! Lisa's gutted!! Think we all are!

So a group of us went did a mini food distribution and the others go to empty the vans. We ended up giving food out and going to see the school. We now shopping for paper and pens for the school and more fruit.

Today feels like I failed. I feel I have tried to organise this well and maybe I missed some tricks? Maybe riaz, then clare not bring around left us alone with no guidance? It just feels like ave bought 20 people to chaos and not helped the people here. I wish I knew what to do. They need stuff. We have stuff but the demand can't be met by our supply and its heart breaking. I feel I should no the answers but I don't. Feeling out of me depth and like I have wasted everyone's time.

I look back on the day and think we have delivered three vans of more stuff to an already exploding warehouse - but we have removed three vans of shite too - so positive?? We have cleared some rubbish, fed some people and planned to just keep cleaning tomorrow... Which I think is the best plan for us.
As a group we meet tonight at the black pearl to regroup and breakdown where we are and what we have achieved.

At the moment I don't know what as a large group in the north west we can do - but I do know sending more stuff is not an option. Volunteers when no real plan when they get here is point less too?! Mayhem and unless we can work out how to do this right is there a point?

Long thoughts and a few beers needed!!

****captain log day 2...22:00pm****
Ok so few drinks and something to eat and a great chat with clare Mosley and we are all calm and confirmed that the warehouse isn't full and she could clear that in a week! She's concerned about our worries about do we carry on helping be she's they still need stuff!! It is bring distributed and more is needed daily... Just needs to packed right labelled etc!

The ware house is at 30% capacity - check out the roof space!

Clare is back in the warehouse tomorrow so we will get in there tomorrow and work with clare and get things moving sorted, organised and out in the camp!!
Feeling more up beat and ready to plan!
More beer needed!

*****Captains log day 3 8am****
Had a lovely night last night.

My hubby and si have formed a budding bromance - candle lit dinner for two, shared bottle red and then roses where bought!! Lordie!

A good night to reflect on the day. Our chat with clare really sorted me and lisa out. Clearly alot going on in the jungle that us new comes can't take it. The passion and the heart takes over and u want to solve the jungle and frustration and sadness that you can't in a day makes u feel so much despair and hatred for what's going on in the world. Am still not sure of what the answer is to the jungle bar the government stepping in and doing the right thing but what is being done is helping people. Clare assured us they are distributing so much during the week and she's keen to dismiss the thoughts that the warehouse is full. It isn't.

Clare from the Wirral has been here for four weeks and making amazing in roads to the situation. Am gutted she wasn't here yesterday but we are meeting her today.

My post yesterday upset people in the warehouse. Whilst I hate upsetting anyone am documenting this for all you guys at home who wanted to come and couldn't, who have pm and emailed me your love and support, who come last week to sort, who have collected, sorted, driven around - all of you - I want you to feel like your hear with me and that's why am documenting as I go. It's MY thoughts and MY feelings. It was a big learning curve yesterday and am hoping today we till learn more and plan well with clare.
I have had some lovely pms from the other group members here about how their day went - totally amazing - so just goes to show how one trip effects different people in different ways -

They have played football, met lovely groups, drank tea from china cups, they have found the heart of the jungle and its people. Listened to stories, found some new male models - am with these girls today wink emoticon
so I feel less like I let them all down and more focused on today
First stop breakfast and more documentary stuff and then meeting clare at 9am ish x

***captains log day 3 18:00***

This morning started a bit slow. Alarms where missed, people drank a little too much last night and lots of small things we wanted to do.
Yesterday a young boy touched mine and Lisa's heart. We went shopping and bought him stuff and yesterday couldn't find him. Before lisa left we wanted to give him his bag. We found his camp and all the men asking for shoes - shoes we tried to distribute yesterday but it was just carnage. The young boy had left. Him and his family off to Belgium. I hope for a better life without any more jungles.

We quickly found another young boy and his sisters. We gave them a kinder egg each and the boy the clothes. Such happy smiling kids with nothing but enjoying what they had.

We then went to "little sudan" to the school and gave them paper, pens and a big Sorry because we couldn't find a black board frown emoticon
Phil and the girls distributed some stuff for some guys they had met who had a right little set up with a little living room and such. These really are homes they building. Not sleeping rooms.

We decided that we would do a food distribution. We bought lots of fresh fruit and these guys loved it yesterday. Fresh fruit went down a treat the weather is lovely and as we look around lots of blokes just chomping away on bananas. Apples, pears etc - we did buy pineapples but not sure knives available? But they took them. Fresh fruit is rare here and I urge anyone who comes to so a fresh fruit distribution.

We ended up back in the school talking to a few people and we have concerns about the structure. Will it hold for winter? Can we improve it? We all think that working with the school would be a great idea to maybe focus some of our efforts- a pet project so to speak.

The afternoon we dropped done olives and hummus off in little Syria and we got chatting to a wonderful guy. A bloke with two kids back in Syria. He is trying to get to the uk to provide a better life. He speaks good English is a chef and told us he cooked a pig in the camp last week! We have tea with his friends our of glass jars and just can't help but thinking there has to be more we can do. It just feels like there must be better and bigger things we can do to help,

We agree to go shopping for him and some afgans we met yesterday for Gas. Yet again are shopping trip is pretty shit. No fucking gas anywhere. Nothing is open on a Sunday and Carrefour just didn't have what we needed. We returned with some banana and some cups (replace that glass jar). Felt shit. Sorry no gas to cook but here's a CUP. Good lord how exciting a cup!! They took them gracefully but u just feel like useless twat!!

We did also manage to find blackboard paint. No wood but hey half a job! We showed them what to do and hopefully they find wood soon. Least they can make a few boards!!

It's funny u walk around the jungle and into a restaurants and its like bring in Thailand say. U forget where u are, but u quickly remember. Despite an amazing clean up there is still rubbish everywhere. It's better but it's still bad. I can't help but worry about rats and disease. So many camps are near the rubbish and I just worry about that.

There are bags and bags and bags of distributions where people have just left stuff. Some unopened and look like women stuff!!! There are unwanted clothes all over the roads. It's a mess. It looks like its ungrateful but when u see how some distribute it is literally open boot and chuck out a box. It's disgraceful, it's wasteful and it makes the place look even worse!! Honestly please listen to what is needed because ur efforts can be spent in other ways!! Rocking up chocking a bag of box out ur boot is creating waste. People rummage for what they need and leave the rest. The rest gets wasted!

We find clare Moseley as we drop of items and see a great distribution of food being done, we then see a great distribution of freshly cooled rice and near being distributed by a well organised and controlled group from the uk. Great idea. Everyone loving it.
Clare confirms lots of great donations out today and its great to here as this morning the warehouse was chocker so to know aid is getting to people is great.

There still seems to be confusion from people we meet on what's needed. What's best way to help? The guys in school in Sudan want a school they see long term how this helps. Clare wants a push on long term food and shelter. Both are very important and both needed so we need to channel our efforts.
Tonight is our last night and I want to try meet with clare before we leave for the uk. Next week we all need to meet and look at a long term plan and how we move forward as a group.

Today feels more productive. It was lovely to meet lots of people and brainstorm on how we can help but still feel our skills could have been better utilised. I still not seen the best way forward that makes us have a goal and keeps everyone happy on camp. I feel something we can all work on and support from schools to local people may be a great thing - but housing is also needed! Research, pricing and lots to think about!!
I need to work with clare and come up with a plan!

We need to make sure we all in this for long haul. Clare is worried come winter that be in. No one be here. I have told her the north west will be!!!

***captains log day 4 2am****
I can't sleep. I desperately want to hug my kids and run back here to help. I don't know what doing but something. Anything. Just being here to do a fresh fruit delivery or to organise something. Anything

We have met a young guy. He's 19 travelling alone. He's been calling and texting and FB pming. He's alone, missing his brother and needs friends. He's desperate for a better life. He's seen videos of the uk and thinks its wonderful. He's from afgan. Can only imagine what he's fled. He has been here a few weeks and took 19 days to get here. He never though Calais would be like this. He has no passport or papers. He misses his young brother desperately.
I have been chatting to him on FB. People wonder how they have phones and credit. Most fled their country with them. Some donated. But he can talk to me on FB. He needs that contact. Thank god he has fb. He tells me he doesn't feel alone if he can talk to me. Ave told Phil we have adopted a 19 year old. He His English is amazing He wants sunglasses so ave organised a contact to meet him tomorrow with some and hopefully move him to a part of the camp where he be a bit more looked after.

He has a baby face. He looks younger than he states and I can't help but think what was I doing at 19.... It wasn't camping in a field full of rubbish with just the dream to get to England. He's tried but keeps getting caught. I wish I could say get in the car. It breaks my heart to leave him but I know he will be looked after tomorrow by my friend and will keep in touch and try send him things he needs.

The rest of the night been discussing on FB many issues in the camp re distribution and the warehouse. I actually just give up discussing it now and as a group we will focus on our plan and get the wheels moving this week.
I feel I should have more to say. But for once I feel lost for words. I feel helpless and hopeless. I want to just go give them money and tell then to be safe. I want to hire a boat to ship then to the uk. I want to help them but how
. I want to go chat with Cameron and tell him to sort himself out. I want to argue with everyone who says send them back. When people with nothing will refuse things to not be greedy. Will give U things and share will take time to get to know us and talk to us whilst all we can do is listen. Listen and apologise listen and think how lucky we where are. Lucky we have that purpley pink passportS. That one document saves us from potentially being one of camp We don't know how lucky we are. We obsessed with all our stuff. 
We waste food 
we don't donate unless we see dead babies 
we don't share 
we don't support others till provoked.

We need to look after our neighbours one day this could be us. We need to know we deserve people's support not sat pushing people back out
I want to go into the jungle and find my friend but its too late and I must trust he will be ok
*****captains log day 4 7:30am***

Eventually fell asleep. Fb is great hut lord it keeps u up. the Alarm goes off at 7:00am. Am shattered and the tears start. Feel like a tourist not an activist. Really don't want too leave these people like this. But alas we have too.
FB is great for contacts and despite the posts over night in the main group re distribution /warehouse I have found a few jems who have been going for months and can help us better.

One thing I don't like at the moment is this attitude I feel for those who can't give up life and move into the camp and help. Seen alot of posts "try coming for more than a day or two". It's bloody heart breaking. No one can understand unless u have set up a group the pressure, stress and how much this takes over your life. You guys have sorted, and collected, bagged up and labelled for weeks. It's been hard work! Not just two days! For people to make out like all we thrown in is two days is an insult and disrespectful. They want help but we give our opinion, our concerns and its thrown back at us. There seems to be alot of egos about and many are now not working with the main groups they are coming over making contacts and doing what they can to help a small group they bonded with - right or wrong?

We are on the rounds to collect are team and off we go. Back to a warm bed regular meals and a life. A good life

****captains log - day 4 - 11:20-****
The return journey

My brain is in overtime and I don't think ill sleep again for constantly thinking about everything going on in the world. So much is happening. So many people need our help and I feel so helpless.

You go to Calais wanting to make a big change but feel that hasn't happened, put to much pressure on myself and feel I have let people down in not helping more. A bloke wanted gas he got cups, a lad wanted shoes he got nothing.

But we did provide around 300euros of fresh fruit, we did give food parcels and clothing and tents, we have given hope to the school of our return, we have made one young lad from afghan know he's not alone in the world.
I see the same frustrations from other people who been to Calais and I see this post.

Gang a few people where our star fish this week. We couldn't help them all but a few star fish got thrown back in to the sea this weekend x
Be proud of what we have ALL achieved
Love to you all xxx

***captains log day 4 20:30pm***

Home. It's a word that we use so freely. We have one. We take it for granted that we always will have this home. This place where a building gets stuff and becomes comfortable and familiar. We add paint, paper, photos and furniture and a house becomes a home. The three pigs had straw, wood and bricks. The refugees have anything and everything pulled together to make a home.
Many of the people we met had a few tents together with a communal area with chairs, a table, book cases, etc. it may not have been shabby chic - but it was home. It may not have been water proof and warm. But it was home. It was all they had and they opened it to us and welcomed us in and shared their homes with us while we drank tea and chatted. The generosity knew no bounds

As we go about collecting stuff we forget these people have left their homes, and we focus on somewhere to sleep. We don't think about home, about living rooms, about communal space, about home comforts. They aren't priority. We read lists that dictate what to take. We stick to them. List changes we change. But we forget about home.

Home means cushions - we had cushions - we charity shopped them, home means rugs - we never asked, home means those little touches we have that make u kick ur shoes off after a hard day and chillax. Out of nothing these wonderful people have created homes and communities and we need to remember this isn't a sleeping camp. These are homes.

So many of them have turned a tent into somthing amazing. They have wooden front doors, they have created separate areas and found old kitchen units to make make shift kitchen areas. They have used all they can to create a home. But we forget this. We forget the basic need to make them feel at home because we need to keep to the list and The List says NO!

Forget the list. We need to start thinking out of the box. I don't mean let's go stupid and send over an ikea kitchen - or could we? But let's think about how we help them create a home. Perhaps if they felt at home they feel some pleasure in life and some comfort. Sometimes taking a step back and seeing what they need is more important that the list.

Improving the school isn't on the list but we have all agreed our first project is the Sudan school. We have lots to work on. Lots to plan and check but we want to work on improving one of the schools. More info tomorrow am shattered and need to sleep.

But before I go :-
I want to say a massive thank you to u all. Without u all my stupid idea wouldn't have grown legs arms and wings and made somthing amazing. Without the collection places the sorters the drivers we have no stuff
Without the first trip team we wouldn't get it to Calais and learn all we did
It's been a pleasure to start this journey with you all and I hope your all on this bus for a long time yet

The biggest of hugs, kisses and love to the team and to all of you who have helped in everyway. U may think what u did was small but every little helps, and without every cog we wouldn't be where we are
Big hugs. Am off to bed xx