The boys from Calais
When the "Jungle" camp in Calais was demolished in the middle of November 30 boys from Afghanistan, aged 14 to 17, were brought down to a center in the Tarn et Garonne. They are comfortably housed in an unused riding stables with good accommodation and a team of staff and volunteers to look after them.
A wonderful group of people in England sent us donations to take the boys shopping, the idea I believe was so they could chose a pair of shoes or an item of clothing. The majority of the boys were happy to do this and the expedition went according to plan. However, three boys had seen a helicopter toy in the supermarket and nothing would persuade them to buy clothes or shoes. In the end seeing how unhappy they were, and that they would be going home with nothing, and realising what it must mean for these kids to be able to chose a toy we gave in and I must say it was my happiest moment in a very happy day to see their joy. They are just kids after all.
Subsequently, about a fortnight ago, ten of the boys were accepted by the authorities to join family in the UK (and one young man decided to apply for asylum in France). Not long after, the remaining 19 heard that they would not be allowed to go to the UK, and no reason was given to them. They started a hunger strike which lasted for several days (with two being hospitalised briefly) until they were promised they would have answers by the end of January. They accepted to wait until then and when I saw them yesterday things seemed to have got back to normal, they were eating again although still sad.
Let's hope the UK eases the conditions for them and that they can go, as they will surely disappear back up to Calais to try again the dangerous road to England if they are refused.