Monday, 28 September 2015

Why We Donated Our Caravan To Calais - by Jessticulate Calmly via Caravans For Calais Facebook Group: 28th September: 2015

Our caravan, bursting full of memories, of trips down to the coast where we took the kids walking and playing in the sea, of sitting out with friends in the awning and having a beer and a chat, of toasting marshmallows on the fire and stories with the kids snuggled in their sleeping bags on our laps, has been collected to go to Calais where we have donated it to the refugees.

Some people have called me crazy for doing this, because we could have had a few more holidays in it, because we don’t know them so why should we help, so here is why we have done it.

It wasn’t because of the terrible pictures of drowned babies, though they made me sob and hold mine close; it was because of the pictures my friend Liz Clegg put up of “the Jungle” when she drove across to take thousands of wellies there and I saw how wet it was, how they were camping and sleeping in puddles.

It got me thinking about when we used to go for a walk with the kids and some days we would walk just that bit too far, or maybe get a bit lost, and it would start to rain. Hunger would start to nip at the edges of my temper as they became grizzly, and cold - because we hadn’t planned for the rain, and their legs were sore because the salty seawater and sand has rubbed on their heels and knees .

“It's okay I would say, just a little bit longer and we will be back, safe in the caravan. We can get dry and put on warm clothes and I will make you a hot chocolate, yes?” Anything to placate them whilst we remembered where we had left the car.

Back then we knew that we had our little box on wheels that would give us shelter from the storm.

And now I think but what if we hadn’t? What if there had been no car and we had just had to walk? What if we hadn’t know where to find shelter? What if the best we could have offered our children was a wet tent and with luck a bowl of food that wouldn’t fill them up? What if we had seen the snotty screaming tantrums stop, and become the trusting big eyes of fear and hunger and hope that, we, their parents, could keep them safe.

What if that little tickly cough had each day become a little worse and in desperation we had had to lie down by the side of the road, huddled together trying to sleep - our arms wrapped around our children, to share our body heat, yes, but so much more to feel that their hearts were still beating, that the rattle in their chest that sent cold dread through our guts at least meant they were still breathing.

What if, even as we had lain there wondering why this was happening - what had happened to our world, there still remained some hope, some belief that the kindness of strangers somewhere might mean we would be welcomed, given medicine and food and dry clothes, smiled at, hugged.

Well, I imagine there would have been tears of shame at our abject desperation, intermingled with joy at receiving respite from the constant companions of hunger and fear and of knowing that we could be safe, that we might yet live and rebuild all that was lost ... because someone saw in us, that we were the same.

Our caravan, our little Bailey Chieftain, which always gave us sanctuary from the outside world, which was home from home will not house all the refugees, after all it is small and built for just four,

Yet when I think why we were given it, (by my mum because she realised how desperate we were to escape the humdrum of our daily lives, to have an escape, a little island of sanity, when we were so broke that life felt pretty bleak,) it feels right that this could be a true escape, a sanctuary, a beacon of the warmth and dry, and maybe it will go to a family or some teenagers or other desperate people, so they can have that little safe space to put down their sorrows and be welcomed with a smile and a hug and a greeting that says we are the same.

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