This bracelet is one of the most precious things I own.
It was a gift from a young girl in a refugee camp in Dunkirk.
I was volunteering with Care4Calais a few weekends ago, and we were distributing food packs, tarpaulins and hot drinks at a camp in Dunkirk. I was serving sugar on the hot drinks station, and a young girl, maybe 9 or 10 years old, came to the table holding a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
While another Care4Calais volunteer was adding some milk to her cup, and offering her a biscuit, I saw the girl was wearing this beautiful sparkly bracelet. I pointed at it and said with a smile “ooh wow, that’s pretty!”.
In an instant, without a second thought, she smiled, took it off her wrist and offered it to me in her palm, and said “it is a gift for you.”
I was so taken aback by her kindness, as I wasn’t asking to have the bracelet, I was simply complimenting it. At first I refused, and laughing I said “oh no! It’s yours, I was just saying it’s pretty!”. She looked slightly disgruntled at my rejection and repeated “it is a gift for you”. I was so grateful and put it on my wrist, saying “oh wow, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
I felt truly overwhelmed by her generosity. We gave the girl lots of biscuits, and I didn’t stop saying thank you, and then she left with her family and her hot chocolate.
Then I burst into tears. I could not believe the pure, pure kindness.
I want to thank her parents for raising such a beautiful child. I’m in awe that even in this horrible situation, where they’ve had to flee from their home, that this child could be so instinctively generous.
When your only option is to live in a tent on the side of a motorway, with no easy access to the basic human necessities of food, water, shelter and sanitation, and you’ve had to flee the life you’ve built: your house, your friends, your town, your country - how, when you have next to no possessions with you except what you can carry, how can you still find something to give? So freely, so openly, and so kindly?
It’s truly, truly beautiful.
This bracelet symbolises all of the beautiful goodness, kindness and generosity in the world to me. I will treasure it for the rest of my life.
So to the little girl, wherever you are, I want to say thank you. I’m so sorry I didn’t catch your name in the rush of the moment, but thank you for being so kind to me. You’ve touched my heart in the most poignant way. And I pray with every fibre of my being that you and your family can find a safe place to call home. You deserve the entire world, and I could only give you sugar and biscuits.
This is a tiny glimpse of the camp in Dunkirk. Families are living in tiny tents on a disused train track, and running parallel up on the bank behind the trees, is a noisy motorway.
When I was there this time, the police had put a huge concrete blockade across the road going into the Dunkirk camp, so people had to walk 15-20 minutes to be able to reach our distribution point, in the bitter cold winds.
To find out more about the refugee crisis in Calais, and about the incredible work Care4Calais are doing, visit their website.