One of the TGI Monday team wanted a week off (it being Easter and all), so it’s the Rev’d (former policeman) Dan Stork Banks on his own for this TGI (Bank Holiday) Monday.
The topic is the Calais Jungle refugees and asylum seekers. Laura Whitmarsh has visited Calais twice, to find there (surprisingly) a place of hope; and then a place of despair. Some 5,000 people were crammed into a mile-wide slum of camp fires, broken tents and sewage-strewn mud. What faith was to be found in their cardboard churches and liturgies of longing for somewhere to call home?
Two thirds of the camp has been bulldozed. It isn’t clear where many of the inhabitants of gone. There are now satellite makeshift camps sprouting up around the original Calais Jungle, and so the cycle of despair goes on. But these are stories of humanity: a 12-year-old boy saw his family blown up, and travelled from Afghanistan to Calais all by himself. A boy. A 12-year-old boy. Do we just leave him there, terrified, physically and mentally scarred, without documentation, without hope of journeying anywhere, among the people-traffickers and child-abusers?
What can we do to help (apart from praying)?
Listen to the stories, for they break down the mental and emotional barriers to compassion. Or should some barriers remain? Should the economic migrants be treated differently from the refugees? Laura Whitmarsh wants to welcome them all. Apparently, we have to re-arrange the whole of society to accommodate them…