Posted on 27/06/2016
Guest Blog: An Experience of a Lifetime
Eleven Year 8 boys visited the Calais Jungle before half term. The trip was planned as part of the school’s social enterprise programme, aiming to provide a fun football match for refugee boys whilst exposing FBS pupils to some of the real world social problems which don’t have easy solutions. Alex Ednan-Laperouse gives his reflections on the trip in this guest blog.
The Journey of a Lifetime
In the morning, I was so looking forward to going to Calais that I felt I was going to explode with excitement. We were going to visit the refugee camps and we discussed how best to be enterprising young men, able to communicate confidently with the refugees so that we would all feel comfortable and at ease. I was wondering if we would succeed or not. Were they going to like us?
When I saw the camp, I was astonished to see so much litter on the ground, the poverty and shed-like housing in the distance. There was a humongous warehouse which had an unbelievable amount of boxes and bags full of clothes, shoes, towels and all sorts of unique things that were necessary for life in the camps. When we arrived at the camp, I saw a small football pitch made out of sand which the refugees had built the week before we came.
I met two hilarious boys who were brothers and looked like twins. They made me laugh and smile by telling jokes which made it easier to communicate. We were asking each other questions like, “Who’s your favourite football team?” and “What’s your favourite food?” I thought that I could have made friends with them at home, but that wasn’t possible because they don’t have passports to go to other countries. I find that such a shame.
The Very Significant Question
We played football for a lot longer than we usually do at home and eventually, Mr Ebenezer joined in. The teams were mixed with refugees and FBS boys in them, playing together. Whilst playing football, Mr Ebenezer saw a boy who had a bandage on his hand which made him curious. He asked him what had happened? The boy answered, saying that he had tried to climb over a barbed wire fence that sliced his hand and it became an infected wound.
A man, whose face was drawn with excruciating emotion, sat in a room full of white smoke which made me cough. I listened to his disturbing story about having walked for about six months to get to Calais and leaving his wife and child in Syria. I felt shocked and kept my emotions inside me. I could tell that he was missing his family very much. He was a very generous man despite what he had gone through. I felt warmth towards him and I was amazed that he would share his chocolate M & Ms with us. Before we left the room, I thought about how terrible it must be to have the rest of your family separated from you, what a difficult decision it must be to leave them, and how dangerous it is in Syria because of the activities of Islamic State.
How it all Ended
Finally, we played more football and my team won the whole match. We all said, “Well done” and gave pats on the back to each other. Then it came to the point where we all had to say goodbye. I felt very sad because we had all had an amazing time, we were going back to our families and they weren’t, and perhaps we could have all stayed friends if we were there for longer.
We wished them luck and left the camp feeling sorrow in our hearts on the coach back to the Euro Tunnel.
By Alex Ednan-Laperouse
Taken from What's Happening, Sports and the Students Blog