Hello, I'm Bruce!
I’m Bruce and I am 18 years old, 19 in July. I am currently on a gap year, and I will be studying LLB Law at university in September. Throughout my A-Levels, I became aware of the dire refugee crisis in northern France. Learning about the brutality from the CRS (compagnies rébublicaines de sécurité), the reputation of refugees created by French government officials, and the lack of action from the French government & the UK government, was difficult for me to comprehend. It was difficult for me to understand that humans could be treated in such an inhumane way: simply due to their situation.
I started to follow the situation closely and researched the international crisis. The UN has stated that, at the end of 2018, a startling 70.8 million people had left home as a result of war or fear of persecution. Refugees live with the dream of a better life: to provide for their family and to use the skills that many have to better a Western society, where they believe they will thrive. However, unfortunately, this is not the case. In most cases, refugees and stateless people (people who have been refused nationality of any country) are denied basic human rights, including health care and freedom of movement. This is all readily available information distributed online by the United Nations and organisations such as Amnesty International, but it concerns me that it seems to be erased from education. Not many of my friends know about the crisis, and co-workers at a job I was at were not aware of what was happening.
Knowing these horrible facts rendered me desperate to take action. Ella had previously volunteered with the charity ‘Care4Calais’, and while I wanted to do something, volunteering abroad with such a controversial issue seemed frightening, way out of my depth, and totally inaccessible, financially. Although, I was constantly researching, constantly finding out new facts and my desperation to help was growing. I researched ‘Care4Calais’ and realised that volunteering with the charity was as simple as telling an administrator that you were coming on a certain date; you just had to sort out your accommodation and transport! Having plenty of time due to my gap year, the time was now. We spent a weekend in January volunteering in Calais: learning about the crisis further, distributing donations of clothing and food, and spreading smiles and joy to refugees who need the encouragement. Their resilience is absolutely inspiring. However, we all have bad days, and some refugees were evidently upset. We heard some heart-breaking things: although most refugees try daily to cross the channel, despite CRS intimidation and defenses from the UK, some seem to have lost hope, one stating that he thinks he’ll die before politicians see refugees as humans. This was a turning point for me. Enough is absolutely enough! It is heartbreaking that this situation doesn’t just stop in Calais. It extends all over the world. This is information nobody should be exempt from knowing. Whether or not we take action, we must know about the global mistreatment of refugees and we must understand that it is completely and utterly wrong.
I have, since my trip, contributed to the situation with light activism: posting ‘Conversations from Calais’ and other startling facts all over my Instagram story, but my 950 followers are not enough. The fact the youth seem to be so, at no fault of their own, clueless about the refugee crisis, is something that needs to be actioned. Knowing the facts, we feel it is our moral duty to spread this knowledge and provide support on how to get involved. I may be a teenager with little impact… but I can’t stay quiet about something I am so passionate about. Whether this project reaches 50 or 5000 people, I will be happy knowing that this project has inspired another young person like me or Ella to get involved in this deep humanitarian issue… or inspires someone to get involved in something to give back to their global community.
I want to conclude with a simple statement: It’s time to treat refugees as what they are: humans. Please, if you are reading this… Share this project with your friends and lets finally shed some light on this deeply important issue and promote some youth involvement. We are the leaders of tomorrow… let's speak up now!