Newbold Students Distribute Aid at French Refugee Camp

<p style="text-align: justify;">3 December 2015 | Bracknell, United Kingdom [Kirsty Watkins] A group of ten people travelled by minibus from Newbold College to volunteer at the migrant refugee camp in Dunkirk, France, on Sunday 29 November.</p>

News December 3, 2015

3 December 2015 | Bracknell, United Kingdom [Kirsty Watkins] A group of ten people travelled by minibus from Newbold College to volunteer at the migrant refugee camp in Dunkirk, France, on Sunday 29 November.

[Photo credit: Sharon Louise]
“We are reminded daily in the news and via social media of the awful plight of the migrant refugees fleeing their homes to seek safety”, stated Pastor Alastair Agbaje, Newbold Chaplain. He worked with ADRA France both on the ground and in coordinating the trip. He states, “Our purpose was to reach out in a practical way to a group of people who are in desperate need of food, clothes, and other aid.”

The team, which included seven students, distributed food and other goods that had been donated for the trip, including sleeping bags, clothing, towels, blankets, toiletries, and food, to some of the approximately 2,000 migrants currently living in the camp at Dunkirk.

“The camp is almost literally on our doorstep, just a two-hour ferry ride away, and this was a big motivation in terms of our decision to help out”, said Pastor Agbaje. He believes that national boundaries are no barrier to compassion – perhaps the reason why he also serves as Community Services director for the Trans-European Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“The moment I heard Newbold was looking into working with ADRA France to give aid to one of the refugee camps, I practically begged to go”, said Sharon Louise, Newbold Student Chaplain, and one of the student volunteers who participated in the trip. “Something about the thought of all those people walking for days, weeks or even months to find safety had been haunting me. The reality of the camp was worse than can be put into words, so I focussed on communicating through photographs. But once we sat ‒ silent ‒ back in the minibus for the long journey home, I asked each person to give a single word in summation. This is all we could manage: harrowing, appalling, inhumane, filthy, devastating, sobering, unacceptable, diverse, dire, humbling, incarnational.”

“I had the opportunity to talk and spend time with a young family from Iraq, who arrived at the camp two weeks ago”, Pastor Agbaje recounted, sharing one of the most memorable experiences of his day. “Their tent was erected in a pool of mud and water, and they had a two-year-old son whose hands were freezing ‒ yet the family was so welcoming and remained hopeful, despite their dire situation. This scenario, and the situations at the many, many other tents that we visited, broke my heart.”

The camp at Dunkirk was established with just 60 migrants and numbers are now around 2,000. “I was encouraged by the number of donations we received for this trip”, said Pastor Agbaje. “When my next-door neighbour heard I would be travelling to the camp he donated £200 of goods, including sleeping bags, waterproof clothing, and fruit and has pledged further support for our next planned trip. This highlighted to me that community want to get involved.”

To contribute financially to the migrant crisis, visit ADRA’s Emergency Fund webpage. To donate goods, or get involved with Newbold’s next trip to the camp in 2016, contact Pastor Agbaje at [email protected]. [tedNEWS]

tedNEWS Staff: Deana Stojković, editor
119 St Peter’s Street, St Albans, Herts, AL1 3EY, England
E-mail: [email protected]

tedNEWS is an information bulletin issued by the communication department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division.
You are free to re-print any portion of the bulletin without need for special permission. However, we kindly request that you identify tedNEWS whenever you publish these materials.

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