I'm Thom, and since January this year I have been working in Calais as a volunteer chef with the amazing Refugee Community Kitchen charity. Having only planned on coming out for a couple of months I have found myself compelled to stay long term. The situation over here is pretty grim, with the camp in Grande-Synthe burning down and making over 1500 people homeless. These people are currently living rough in the woods, fields and abandoned factories in the area. We make sure that they get two hot, nutritious meals each day as well as essentials like water, cold food packs and a safe space to eat.
The work is long and hard, with 10 hour days being the standard, but in these times of crisis those often roll into 12-14 hour days due to being short staffed on long term volunteers. It is however amazing, necessary, and fulfilling work, making sure that some of the most vulnerable people at least get fed decent food. The situation is getting worse too, with the destruction of the camp in Paris, and the weather warming up, we are expecting many new migrants to the area in the coming weeks. So much so that I don't feel I can currently leave and return to a wage paying job in the UK, when there is so much to be done here.
In my time over here so far I have:
Cooked countless curries, rice and prepared salad.
Helped build a bakery to provide fresh bread.
Helped distribute both food, and water to the refugees.
But now I need your help! My funding is running desperately low, and to sustain myself out here I need funds to cover my cost of living/expenses etc.
If you have anything at all that you might be able to donate to enable me to stay here it would be greatly appreciated. I love the work I do, and would like to continue helping with the effort, however this takes funds, something I'm very very low on.
I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who has already donated! Your money has directly gone to helping the biggest movement of displaced people since World War 2, and on their behalf as well as mine, thank you! Another huge thanks goes to the people I work with, and for, everyday. The enthusiasm, smiles, hard work and get stuff done attitude never fails to amaze me.
T x x
Here is a list of some of the amazing achievements the team I'm joining has made in the last year alone:
-Cooked every day, 7 days a week since 1st of December 2015
-Cooked over 570,000 meals
-Served over half a million tonnes of food
-Built industrial kitchen in L’Auberge des Migrant warehouse, Calais
-Created cold food distribution facility in L’Auberge des Migrant warehouse, Calais
-Supported all the Community kitchens in Calais camps with food and equipment
-Designed and Built 7 communal kitchens in Grande Synthe/La Linere Camp
-Built free shops and sheltered communal areas in Grande Synthe/La Linere Camp
-Built and equipped the Kurdish Community kitchen in Grande Synthe/La Linere Camp
-Designed and built food storage facility supplying Kurdish Community Kitchen in Grande Synthe/La Linere Camp
-Fully equipped functioning Community bakery in Grande Synthe/La Linere Camp including tandoor ovens
-Organised and stocked containers with essential food items for Syria
-Delivered food and aid to volunteer groups on the ground in Paris
An example of a typical meal we produce.
Split pea and ginger dahl, with harsisa and sesame hot sauce, lemon rice and a fresh slaw.
We put out in excess of 1500 meals a day!