One of the places we’re proudest of supporting in the Calais camp is Baloo’s Youth Centre – run by 8 volunteers, they provide schooling, sport, games, food, outreach, clothing and other supplies to the 50 or so boys who come daily. For many it is a vital sanctuary. Baloo’s is in the zone earmarked for eviction next week.
To understand just what a loss this will be, it’s best to hear from one of it’s users – the following is written by a 15 year old from Afghanistan:
I have now been living in the jungle for 6 months, when I first came here I could not go outside because I felt unsafe. I met Aska the youth worker and we just played games outside in the mud because there was nowhere for us to go. Then they built the youth centre and we went to play football at the pitches in Calais but one day the police told us we could not go there anymore and now we cannot play football anymore, the jungle is boring. I like the youth centre because it is a place where I can go and feel safe, I really like to play connect 4 because I am good at it. It is a place I can go and feel safe and the staff help me get the things I need like clothes and we get lunch every day. I go to class 3 times a day and I learn French, English and Conversation the youth centre people have helped me to do this I really like learning. I learned some English in Afghanistan but only a little and my English is now very good. I like to learn languages and one day I hope to learn Welsh too. Sometimes the camp feels like a jail because we can’t go anywhere but if I did not have the youth centre and my lessons I would feel like I have lost everything because learning is so important to me. I like the staff because they are my friends and they help me to do the things I want to do and they are funny and want to spend time with me, without their help I am not sure what I would do as no one else helps me. I would be really sad if I could not spend time with my friends at the youth centre because it helps me to feel happy and safe and I did not feel happy and safe before this.
If you would like to support our work please do so here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/calaisjungleyouth
We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.
Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!