“[The volunteers] are people who have nothing else to do with their time and so instead disrupt public order, [and] provoke institutions. They are using people in distress and manipulating the migrants. It’s not about helping them.”
Natacha Bouchart, Calais Mayor
Dear Mme Bouchart,
Come on down. Unruffle your feathers and take a walk, down the steep spiral steps from your ivory tower into the dark. Don’t be scared. Gently does it. Pop into the warehouse, even just for a day. Plenty of people do. In fact, the majority of “people who have nothing else to do with their time” are here merely for a few days. They give up their weekends, between days spent as nurses and teachers and doctors and politicians and café owners and waitresses and events managers and journalists and students, just to chop some vegetables, or fold some jackets. And yes, many volunteers are here for a longer period of time, but where else should we be? Turning a blind eye and ignoring what’s on our doorstep? There’s enough of that going on from your office alone. To manipulate is to control or deceive. Tell me, pray, tell me, where the manipulation is in providing hungry people a free meal, or free wifi, or a free jacket? Do you not think that your little town, desperately trying to ignore its problems, would see considerably more theft and damage to property if we all just…left?
So, I say again, come on down. Pick up a knife and chop some onions. Chat with the medical student from Leeds and the lawyer from Chicago standing at the table with you. Feel the energy bouncing from the walls of hundreds of volunteers spurred on by nothing other than determination and hope that things might just get better. Choose love. Come hold a spoon in your hand, ladle some rice into a bowl and look the boys in the eye. And I mean, look. See each and every one of the 700 individuals sleeping in your woods. Or not sleeping, as the case may be. There’s a whole world beyond your public order and institutions, and it’s a lot more human. We’re here, and we’re staying. You can’t beat us down, so join us?