Dom Ford/Marlow Volunteer has sent us his second update and since writing, it has been confirmed that he will be taking over next week as the warehouse manager in Calais. So we are sending him our good wishes for the challenges that we are sure will lie ahead, and look forward to more news from Calais in due course!
A lot has changed since my last update!! After talking to Collective Aid (CA), one of a few organisations providing support in the Balkans, I decided to volunteer with them, but little did I know they were also operating in Calais, and had just taken over a warehouse that coordinated and held stocks of Non-Food Items (NFIs) for around 5 other NGOs. In total, they were providing support for somewhere around 2000 refugees in the Calais area.
They replied and asked if I would be able to help in the warehouse in Calais instead. I jumped on a ferry on Monday, arriving at 4.30 and got thrown straight into the action, working until something like 9.30. Exhausted, I managed to make it to my bed and passed out. The next morning saw my first ‘real’ day. Not only had CA just taken over a warehouse, they were also planning on moving warehouses in the next few weeks!!
Information has been flying thick and fast, from all directions over the past 2 days as I learned how to start managing a warehouse, but it wasnt just talking. I’ve been sorting through clothes and tents, dismantling old sorting systems, helping to fix motorbikes, deciding how to get rid of a stray cat, all in about an hour. To say it’s been non-stop would be an understatement.
The community of volunteers themselves is overwhelming – there isn’t a bad bone in sight, and everyone is really friendly, welcoming, and supportive. I managed to do field training today, allowing me to go on distribution runs themselves, but that’s for the future. Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m preparing myself for another long day in the warehouse tomorrow.
One of our trustees – Tom Doust – is currently in Athens, spending a couple of months teaching English at a refugee project called Ankaa. We are so fortunate as a charity to have volunteers who are prepared to help at the business end of the refugee crisis, and to send us reports about the realities of the situation there.
Tom is writing a blog about his experiences – linked here TOMINGREECE
Let me introduce you to Dom Ford: an ex-Borlase pupil who has recently finished a masters in Logistics at Cardiff University. Dom approached us with an interest in volunteering to help with humanitarian aid for refugees. We were able to introduce him to several possible volunteer groups across Europe. Dom has promised to keep us up to date with his experiences, and to let us know how we as a community may help and support the work he will be doing. This is his first blog …..
Where to go?
Just over a year ago, I decided that I wanted to build a career in humanitarian aid. I went back to university, studying a masters in logistics and operations management, and finished a fortnight ago. With not many paid opportunities in humanitarian aid, I accepted that I would have to volunteer with NGOs. The only question was, where?
I was first put in contact with Samos Volunteers through Marlow Refugee Action, but then I began to learn more. CESRT operates on Chios, responding 24/7 to all landings on the eastern shore of the island. The Refugee Community Kitchen makes somewhere between 1500 and 2500 meals a day to serve to refugees in Calais. In Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is only one NGO left providing support to both countries – the rest have been evicted by the governments. There are hundreds of NGOs operating all across Europe, all providing different services, but the end result is all the same; to help those that need it the most, who have been let down by everyone else, who have been failed by those that can help but have chosen not to.
I’m writing this in Marlow, two thousand miles away from Samos. I look at my window and don’t see how I could be further away from the crisis. Have I decided where and how to help? Not yet, but I know I will.
In collaboration with Coopers, Marlow Refugee Action are bringing Imad’s Syrian Kitchen popup experience to Marlow again. The meal is a mezze of 8 to 10 starters followed by 3 main courses and a dessert. Cooper’s bar will be selling wine and beer to accompany the meal.
Buy your tickets for 1st, 8th and 15th November now. The ticket price includes a £15 donation to Marlow Refugee Action.
Imad Alarnab is a chef and restaurateur from Damascus who was forced to leave and seek asylum in the UK. He left behind a successful business including several restaurants and juice bars.