Imagine if your Monday looked like this?

"I teach Spiderman. Spiderman is 6 years old. He is from Kurdistan, Iraq. He is always, always, smiling. He loves aeroplanes and delights in dinosaurs. He enjoys saying the word ‘yellow’ very loudly and loves flashcards." Natalie Scott, Volunteer Teacher in the Calais Jumgle

It’s Monday morning, and for most of us, that’s a pretty dismal realisation.

The weekend was fun. We have no work, no school, nothing we HAD to do. We got to lay in our cosy beds for longer, eat leisurely lazy breakfasts, see our friends, spend time with family, hang out by log fires in pubs (with booze) and not face the cold, dank weather outside, unless we wanted to.

Monday is here now, which means alarm clocks; getting kids up and ourselves dressed for work; arguing over what you’ll have for breakfast; lateness; commuting on trains that might be a bit colder than we’d like; stopping for coffee as we won’t get through the day without it and dreading the to do list we made on Friday and the pile of work teetering on our desk…in our nice, warm office.

Mondays suck. But, imagine if your Monday actually looked like this?

Dunkirk Refugee Camp

Imagine if something devastating had happened, and for whatever reason, you no longer had that cosy bed to get out of at 6am. No longer had an office to commute to. No school uniform to argue with your kid over, because there was no school to send them to. All you had left was a tent in a freezing cold, icy field, a few makeshift shops and the hopeless prospect of living this existence everyday.

And then imagine that a group of highly qualified strangers left their comfortable lives, with alarm clocks and warm beds and work and earnings and luxuries to come and help you and your children, for no reason other than kindness. Imagine if this group of teachers came to sit in those freezing cold fields with you, and set up tents of their own to give your children the chance to go to school, to learn, to use the time they had to spend in these awful conditions for something good, something useful, something worthwhile. You’d be eternally grateful, wouldn’t you?

This is the reality of an old school friend of mine at the moment. She left a secure, leadership level job in a warm school to go and teach the refugee children over in Calais, who would otherwise have nothing to do with their days. She, and the small team she’s there with, have set up makeshift classrooms in tents with holes, using old pallets as benches for the children to sit. The children greet their teachers with glee every morning, despite the horrendous conditions they’re living with, and eagerly devour the information that’s imparted on them. They are excited to learn, crave education, and are happy to sit in the freezing cold while they’re taught something. Anything.

Natalie and the other teachers are doing their best. They work with donated reading materials, but it’s not enough. They started to paint the alphabet on the ‘classroom’ walls, but ran out of paint. They’re doing their best to help these children – and please remember, whatever your thoughts on these camps – these are innocent children, but they have no funding, no help, other than that we can give them.

The Jungle

I’m in absolute awe of these people. It’s the middle of winter. They have friends and family of their own that they’re missing. But, because of a passion for education and a commitment to doing the right thing, this is their existence, for now. They need more teachers (they are currently only reaching a fraction of the children in camp – they just don’t have the manpower or resources to help them all) and they need more funds. They need to be able to buy supplies – to be able to finish the alphabet, for God’s sake.

They need our help, to help more.

I was completely unaware of just how bad things were for these kids until I read Natalie’s blog and saw her pictures. I have to spread the word about the brilliant, beautiful work they’re doing, and I want to ask for your assistance in getting them the help they need. If you want to know what it’s really like in the Jungle, stop reading the Daily Mail and please read the real story. It’s hard to believe, but it really brings home just how lucky we are to have the luxury of the Monday morning we love to moan about.

I rarely ask anything from readers of this blog – but if you can spare a few pounds to help them buy a book, or ten books, or to fund a better tent to do this wonderful, selfless work in, please take a look at the Edlumino (Education Aid) site, where you can find the latest news and a link to their justgiving page, where you can help the team.

I’m very proud of Natalie, and the other Teachers volunteering their skills and time. Her updates have moved me to tears, yet at the same time filled me with a strange kind of hope that the world is still full of good people. I think anyone with a heart will see that no kid deserves to be living like this. I cannot imagine the thought of my own child having to go through such a horrendous ordeal; but the knowledge that this team of strangers is brightening the children’s with education warms my heart a little.

Natalie and Superman

 

I teach Spiderman. Spiderman is 6 years old. He is from Kurdistan, Iraq. He is always, always, smiling. He loves aeroplanes and delights in dinosaurs. He enjoys saying the word ‘yellow’ very loudly and loves flashcards.”

The Teachers want to teach. The kids want to learn.

Forget politics, let’s just do the right thing.

Links:

Edlumino
Donate
Natalie’s Blog

(Header image: origination unknown. All other images are copyright Natalie Scott, used with her permission. )

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