We were down by the port as part of the solidarity with the refugees action. There was music, there was singing, there were people exchanging hugs, names and stories. I sat down on the grass as Elaine went to use the portaloo.
A young lad came to sit down to my right, away from me, away from anyone else. He was clutching a pad of paper and colouring pencils. He flicked through his drawings, closed the book, then opened it again. He looked agitated, he looked lost. He ripped out pages from his pad, then ripped pieces of paper and started eating them.
I could sit and observe no longer.
"Hello, what is your name?"
"How old are you?"
"fourteen? are you alone?"
"Where are your family?"
"Where are you from?"
"Who did you travel with? Any of your family?"
"Where are you trying to get to?"
"Why the UK?"
" Because I want to go to school, school good there."
This boy looked so lost, so damaged -it broke my heart. I thought of how badly he would be treated by many if ever he managed to make it over here and what a journey he had made to end up in the hell hole of the Jungle a journey of over 3000 miles, made with who knows who, going through god knows what to end up alone in a camp full of damaged men from all war torn nations, with no proper sanitation, shelter, food, nothing really, not even a shantytown.
I looked at this boy and asked if I could give him a hug. I have no idea when the last time was he saw his mother. I have no idea if she is even alive or not - I don't think he knows. He stood up, and we clung onto each other for a moment in time where everything stopped.
Out of all the awful stories we heard yesterday, the image of this boy sitting on his own eating paper will haunt me forever. I can't stop thinking about him and what will happen to him. I wish I could have just scooped him up, bought him home and tucked him up in my spare bed last night.
So please, please, before you condemn anyone who is fleeing a war torn nation, please think of little Habte aged 14, all alone in the world, lost, no-where to go, no-one to turn to. He stole my heart and has gained plenty of my tears.