I want to tell you about someone very special to me. My Sudanese brother who happens to be trying to live in a refugee camp in Calais right now.
I met him the very first time I visited the Jungle, back in July last year. I saw straight away that he was special, despite what he had been through, he was positive, and full of so much love.
Over the next few months, as we got to know each other better and better, we laughed a lot, despite the situation.
I watched as he built a wooden shelter (to replace his tent) with the help of his friends. This picture is of us cooking dinner in it together. He made the impossible possible by making a home from nothing. He poured his love into the bits of wood and tarpaulin and it showed. He insisted I stayed there whenever I slept in the camp and he shared a makeshift bed with his friend to make room for me…
I loved that shelter. And it was all he had.
In November there was a big fire in the camp, the same night as the Paris attacks, and it engulfed that little shelter and the few belongings my brother, and his brothers had between them.
Yet still he remained strong, and their little community rallied together to rebuild somewhere for them to sleep, to survive the bitter winter they were not used to. Somewhere they could at least attempt to stay warm…
But in February, the news of the planned bulldozing came. My brother and his friends, they panicked. We fought so hard to stop it, but there was nothing they or we could do. Sure enough, just days later, the authorities bulldozed that little piece of safety, the only thing he had left in the world.
Again, he was left with nothing. Out in the cold, in the middle of winter in Northern France.
Once again he worked with volunteers to make a new shelter in the overcrowded Northern part of the camp…
And then yesterday, I got the devastating news of another fire.
Again a message from my brother, confirming that his shelter, and all those around him, were taken from them. Three of his friends are still in hospital, being treated for burns, unable to escape the flames quick enough…
How much trauma can one person live through? How much does one heart have to hurt? How are we allowing victims of war (think about history, the Jews for example), to be living like this after already being persecuted and subjected to endless grief and trauma.
How will we explain to our kids, and their kids?
All I want to be able to do, is to welcome my brother into my life.
I want to be able to hug him so hard. To slowly watch him recover and grow. I want to be there for him, and for him to be given the chance, the opportunity to be the amazing person that he is, to excel, to move forward from this horror.
I want this to be his past.
But it keeps happening, and I don’t see the end.
Whatever happens, every moment of every day, I will love him so much, and so hard, and never stop fighting for him to be able to just live, in peace, as we all deserve to.
I’m going to him this week, if you guys want to donate to our work in the camp: