Since I got back to Canada, I feel like I’ve given up hope. While I love skydiving and it makes me feel much calmer. It is after all my therapy, where I can be only in the moment and not think about any other issues. It is not enough. And it distracted me from the real issues.
People are still getting mistreated everywhere on a daily basis. And if you are lucky enough to live in a stable and peaceful country, it’s too easy to push these thoughts away and focus on what’s in front of you, like your TV show, or the new shoes you really need for the summer.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with watching TV or shopping, but I find it important to remind myself and others that as humans we have a responsibility towards other humans.
We are all in this together. I know it’s much easier to convince yourself that gays, trans, refugees, or any other marginalised groups are worth less than you are, but that’s not true. We are all worth nothing and everything at the same time. And it’s time we start realising that.
We can work together to make this place a better place and not fall into the trap of us against them. We are all part of ”us” and ”them” for someone else. Which is proof enough that there’s no such thing as us. Or them. We are all different and those differences are what make us alike.
A year ago I made the decision to return to Calais for three months. I would have stayed longer, but that was the limit for my Schengen Area visa. And as much as I’d like to be able to say that the situation has improved, I’m afraid it’s far from being the case. Yes, the Jungle was dismantled. But it means that people are now scattered everywhere, making it very difficult for the organisations to help them. The police brutality is reaching new highs. Tons of unaccompanied children are left alone to fend for themselves on the streets. Different associations are prevented from distributing food and water on a daily basis. And unfortunately, this situation is far from being limited to Calais and Northern France.
Refugees fleeing wars in hopes of a quieter life are facing horrendous situations. Not only are they being abused by smugglers, police and scared locals, but they’ve got nowhere to go. And most of them have left everything and everyone behind. They rarely have access to a power point to charge their phones, they’ve spent all their money getting here and are now refused access to the basics. And to add to the physical hardship, they have no way to know if their loved ones are still alive. They are alone and scared. And realising that people are not any more humans than the people they fled from in the first place.
How would you react if you were the one in that situation? You and I would probably hold on to the faint hope of making it somewhere calm and peaceful, finding a job, sustain ourselves and live a quiet life. Not making waves, simply surviving. Licking our wounds, trying to help others do the same.
Humans are resilient to an extent I would have never even imagined, but even the seemingly endless positivism of the people I met in the Jungle, or the volunteers has its limit.
Because the refugee crisis is not really in the news anymore, the associations I work with struggle even more than they did when I was there. If you want to help out in any way, they are always desperate for money, donations, and volunteers. You can find out more at HelpRefugees and L’Auberge des Migrants.
Let’s find our humanity again together.