Since September 2015 we’ve been going over to the refugee camp in Calais to help make the living conditions in the camp a little bit better, by doing monthly clean ups through Greenlight. The team has gone over to Calais four times now, each time taking between 50 to 80 volunteers from our church.
Through working with other organisations on the ground, such as Doctors Without Borders and ACTED, a non-profit development organisation, we became aware of the critical need for adequate sanitation facilities in the camp. As of the end of November, there were only 4 water points for a population of over 6000 people.
Based on the concept of converting old shipping containers into sanitation units used by A21 on the islands and borders of Greece, we began looking into the possibility of placing one in Calais. Through your contributions to the Refugee Response Fund we were able to build and place a container in the camp just before Christmas. This container was fitted with 18 taps, sinks and mirrors.
Over the past 11 days since installing the sanitation unit, approximately 800 people have used the facility each day. People use the unit for purposes such as filling water containers for cooking and drinking, as well as for personal hygiene including shaving, brushing teeth, cleaning crockery, and laundry.
More than just bringing a source of clean water to a previously underserved area of the camp, many refugees have expressed an increased sense of dignity and value with the arrival of the sanitation unit. “I feel more human now” was one such comment from a Syrian refugee.
Signs have also been posted in the sanitation unit alerting users to the risks and dangers of human trafficking which can be prevalent in refugee situations. The signs, provided by A21, have been translated into Arabic, Farsi, Amharic, and Tigrinya.
The Refugee Response Fund also allowed us to contribute 480 tonnes of gravel to help with water filtration as well as to solidify roads throughout the camp. These roads will both increase accessibility across the camp and help partner organisations do their work more effectively, such as garbage collection.
How you can contribute
These improvements to the living conditions in the refugee camp have been made possible through the generous contributions of time and finances by people within our church. If you’d like to get involved in the response, you can still contribute to the Refugee Response Fund or sign up as a volunteer with Greenlight to join one of our monthly cleanups.
To find out more about Hillsong’s Refugee Response, visit our website by clicking the button below.