We arrived safely in Calais on Sunday night, bringing a full load of shoes and bags from our generous supporters in Totnes, Exeter and Kingsbridge. Our fears of being turned back by the French border forces were unfounded and we sailed though unchallenged. Most of the hotels and hostels in Calais were full due to the influx of volunteers and the world's press. We were lucky to find a room in a Chateau 16 miles away in a secluded woodland....only to discover the hotel full of photo journalists!
Monday, being demolition day one, started out with a great deal of apprehension from everyone in the Care4Calais warehouse. There were record numbers of volunteers today, somewhere around 100, all willing to play their part in supporting refugees as they faced a day of upheaval and uncertainty.
The French police only allowed 20 volunteers and 2 cars to be used as ambulances for minor injury cases, so most of us stayed in the warehouse sorting and checking donations. We were pleased to see that the 40 pairs of new waterproof shoes went directly to camp today as the need for good footware is urgent. Each box was opened, and had a pair of warm socks added. We all breathed a sigh of relief when we found out that the police allowed the shoes into camp this morning, as we were initially told that donations would not be let in today. The first clearance plan for the camp was to remove women and children only. Afghani people were told they would have to wait until tomorrow. This potential flash point has been averted and at the end of the day peace prevailed over the proceedings.
The best news is, over a thousand children will have their first night of safety since leaving their home countries. They will sleep in the containers protected by a security entry system and French social workers.
Let's hope they, and us all get a good night's sleep tonight. Bonsoir Steve and Pauline