Gratitude

Last Christmas I cried all day.

I had been working in Calais for 6 months by then and my life had changed a lot. I had gone from working in fashion and living in my own happy little bubble, to being exposed to trauma and pain that I wasn’t ready for and I didn’t know how to deal with or release.

So on Christmas day, when everyone else was opening presents and eating a shit load of food…I released it.

I just couldn’t wrap my head around it and it hurt me so much.

I felt like I couldn’t function within normal society any more. Little things, like when people would wish for a white christmas, it brought up visions of my friends in the Jungle shivering around an open fire.

Everything just felt so wrong. How was it possible that so close by, thousands of incredible, strong, kind, good people were living in tents in the mud, whilst we stuffed our faces on Turkey and gave each other more STUFF, when we already had everything we needed.

My eyes had been opened to many things that I wished I could unsee. And once I started, the floodgates opened and I couldn’t stop. There was nothing anyone could say to console me…

Over the last year a lot has changed. I’ve learnt and grown so much from the places I have been and the people I have met along the way.

With the most amazing people around me, our work became more sustainable, and although still powered by emotion and passion, our decisions became more considered and less reactive as together we worked out how to move forward working in this difficult space.

One of the good friends I cried a lot about last year, was here today, celebrating with us. I woke up this morning at home with one Eritrean, one Afghan and two Sudanese boys here too. Three of them enjoyed their first Christmas in England, and for my little Eritrean foster brother Mez, it’s his second with us.

Today I have felt only gratitude. So grateful for the people that this work has introduced into my life. They have taught me to turn that pain into love, strength, resilience and hope…as well as channelling it into the driving factor that keeps me determined to move forward.

Happy Christmas everyone. It’s a pleasure to all on this journey with all of you.