These two Southampton students are travelling to Calais to help refugees

Two Southampton students are traveling to Calais’s infamous “Jungle” to do their bit to help the plight of the refugees there, and they need your help!

At present, we are, as a global community, in the midst of arguably one of the most severe humanitarian crises that the world has ever had to deal with. A huge influx of people, displaced by war and oppression are heading towards Europe, with the understandable, yet incredibly difficult objective of a better life.

The outrage at the current situation has been clear throughout the last few months, with the public pleading with world governments to compassionately resolve the crisis, and even in the wake of the tragic Paris attacks people have remained compassionate, though it was an attack that has given an excuse for many detestable bigots to crawl out of the woodwork to espouse their hateful, largely inaccurate opinions. On top of this there are plenty who have mentioned their sympathies towards refugees seeking a better life, yet have done nothing for those in need.

Two Southampton girls have decided that this is not enough, and are planning to visit Calais to help with the ever worsening crisis in an attempt to contribute something to the incredibly difficult situation. They are heading to the camp that has been named the jungle, but of course they need help in doing so. I caught up with Valentina and Lia, both 3rd year students to find out why they’re doing this, what inspired them and what we can do to help.


Why did you both feel the need to go over and help these people?

I wouldn’t say it’s so much a need to help that drove me to want to go to The Jungle but an increasingly strong sensation that I couldn’t let them down. I sat indoors, in the library or in my bedroom reading about their stories, the danger they experienced to get to safer ground and the appalling conditions they have to live in, in these camps and I felt like I couldn’t just stand by and not do anything. I simply don’t think it’s humane to watch someone suffer from a position of comfort and not do something for them.

What was it that inspired your action, rather than just your sympathy?

Personally, I also felt a huge feeling of empathy, one of my best friends from home has Syrian heritage. Although he was born in Spain, both his parents, and all of his extended family are Syrian and I couldn’t help but think what if one of his loved ones had to experience what so many of the Syrian population experienced. In fact, his grandparents have fled the country for years, so I’ve been aware of the situation for a long time and I’ve always thought what if it was me in that situation. If I had to run away from the place I knew the most, or lost members of my family to war. I couldn’t help putting myself in all of those people’s shoes, and understanding the complications really inspired me to act.

What more needs to be done to help deal with this growing crisis?

This is probably a very difficult question to answer because of how many socio-political and economic factors come into play. I personally don’t think that bombing, or any other form of violence is going to help, and now there are two main factors to deal with in this crisis: stopping what has caused it, but also helping re-establish all the people that have been affected by it. I think in terms of The UK, the government should offer far more asylum than what it has already. As far as the people, I’d encourage anyone and everyone who is thinking of getting involved to just do it. To go down and help at the camp even if it’s for a day, or send as big or small a package with donations as they can.


Where can we donate, contribute etc…?

There are so many charities and crowdfunding pages active right now. The organisation we’re working for, CalAid, have a massive warehouse and are taking donations in every day, so contributing by sending them packages of appropriate clothes or tents, or building equipment would be great. People just have to simply email this address and arrange it [email protected].

Also, our crowdfunding page is nearly about to reach it’s target and we’re putting money together to help fund our trip to the camp as well as to buy more needed goods. As we’re on the subject, I’d like to say how incredibly grateful I am to everyone that have supported us. This really means a lot to us and we’ll make sure to spread the love for a whole week of hard work!