It's nearly two years since I left Calais. The refugee crisis is less of a deafening scream, swallowing my other thoughts. Now it is more of a solid lump, a quietly judgemental resident
in the side of my mind; we are cohabiting the space and doing a somewhat reasonable job of getting on with another sort of life.
This isn't about my head though; this is about the group "Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced People". Observant readers will have noticed their link at the bottom of my site and anyone who follows me on social media was probably bored of hearing about them years ago.
"You don't even have a smart phone Katie! You haven't checked your voicemail for three years! Why do you care so much about refugees having phone credit?!" I hear you protest.
Let me tell you why it is so important for refugees to have phone credit...
To contact their loved ones.
This one is the most obvious and easily understood. War tears families apart; often a family will only have enough funds to send one member further afield in search of safety or people get split up on the journey. Alternatively, many unaccompanied minors are trying to reach a family member in Europe; this might be the only person they have left.
To navigate in a strange place
When was the last time you tried to find your way around a new city without a smart phone? Most young people might not even be able to remember a time. Online maps are used to find out where you are and (hopefully) where to go next.
To find services and work out their next step.
An overwhelming feeling for those in camps and homeless, is that of being stuck. Refugees and displaced people do not reach the end of their journey until they are settled and able to support themselves. Many are trapped for years between their original home (which likely no longer exists or is just too dangerous to return to) and finding a new one. This eternal state of movement, anxiety and danger is extremely difficult to find a way out from. The internet allows refugees to research their next step. Even a "dumb" phone is a basic necessity to deal with any legal processes or basic bureaucracy. Claiming asylum in Europe is hugely complicated, but without a phone and credit, it is impossible.
With this at the forefront of my mind, I have offered to help Phone Credit for Refugees & Displaced People with their social media. I'm not sure I am capable of being one of their real admins and having to deal with the disappointment of those we can't help, so this was a happy medium. If you would like to help me make a good first impression, please follow us on twitter or instagram and, most importantly, ask to join the facebook community. We desperately need to grow and I promise you will be greatly valued. If you are not on facebook, you can still donate here.
You might also be interested to read:
- The fate of the Jungle Bambinos. (2nd November 2016)
- Uncertainty in Calais... (1st October 2016)
- Volunteering for l'Auberge des Migrants in the Calais "Jungle" (19th March 2016)