A couple from Eastbourne has travelled to Calais with shoeboxes filled with donations for children and mothers living in the camps.
Aydin and Monica Kavakli, from Eastbourne travelled to the camps on Saturday (September 26) with more than 40 shoe boxes full of toys, clothes and other essentials specifically aimed at helping the children in the camps.
The shoebox donations come from a local campaign in the town set up after the photo of Syrian three-year-old Aylan Kurdi appeared in the world’s media.
The couple and their children visited Calais with the help of former MP Stephen Lloyd, who funded the journey.
Monica said, “It was a very sad and almost surreal day, full of a whole host of emotions, however we returned home that evening with a degree of relief, we had, to the best of our abilities achieved what we had set out to do.
“We all drove through one of the smaller outer camps and then Aydin on his own, went in to the main camp and spoke to many of those who are staying there. He met Sudanese, Afgans, Syrians and Iraqi Kurds and all of them were the same, they were polite, respectful, patient and welcoming and all of them said the same, they were not too proud to accept whatever help they were offered or given.
“They needed it, they were desperate and having seen it for ourselves, they had to be desperate to be living in the conditions that we witnessed.”
The couple arranged to pass their donations on to a day centre at the camp, which had around 60 women and 40 young children staying nearby.
After seeing the camp for themselves, the couple plan on returning in the coming months with further supplies for children living there.
They are collecting toys and activities to occupy the children as well as sanitary and cleaning goods that do not require water such as cleaning wipes and antibacterial gels.
The couple are also collecting firewood and unwanted pallets, plastic sheeting for lining the makeshift tents and waterproof clothing for men in the camp.
Monica said, “Their water supply for cleaning goods and washing is appalling and they have little access to anything to burn for fires. If anybody can offer any sort of help then we would love your support.
“The children continue to be our priority but if we are going and can collect these other items then we will do that too.”
Anyone who wants to offer their support can get in contact with Monica by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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