A Child's Choice

We finally got to meet families.

You don’t typically see families in Calais, the women and children are separated from the men in the Jungle. But I love seeing the families.

All the little kids that run and jump on us. Or come up behind when we are sitting and cover our eyes with their little hands until we turned around and started tickling them. These beautiful little beams of light.

The mothers are often breathtaking; a very subtle pain is behind their eyes. The fathers smile at us, and ask us where we are from. Always excited when I reply “America.” But oh those children, their eager hands and questions in the bits of English they’ve picked up. When I say a few words in Farsi to the Afghan children (Pashto is very similar to Farsi) they laugh and excitedly pull their friends over to talk to me…and to make fun of my accent.

But what about the rest of them? The children that are too angry to play with us. The traumatized 4-year-old that has retreated from the rest of his community. The little girl who lost her older sister on the boat ride over to Europe.

The other day we were playing with two little boys when they started pushing each other. It began friendly enough, but after a little while one of the boys picked up a fist-sized rock. His eyes shining with tears and anger, he started walking – slowly and deliberately to the other boy about a hundred yards away. Thankfully one of the adults nearby stopped him before he had the chance to cause real pain.  

With a generation that has grown up with so much pain and violence, what can we honestly expect?

They are not in school. They have almost certainly lost someone they loved – and they likely saw it happen. They meet volunteers and new friends every day, they form relationships, and then the volunteers leave and their friends move away. They are forced to say goodbye again. And many of them are unaccompanied, alone with no one to take care of them.

My friends have a Eritrean foster brother. He is a refugee who made the trip from Eritrea to the UK with his two friends. Along the way both of them were killed, they were thirteen. 

That’s the generation that I am doing this work for. The children that will be the voices of the future. That will someday have an internal battle between choosing the dark or the light.

I don't know what they will choose. But I do know that the ones that have families are loved fiercely and fully. And if I am confident in anything it is the power of love.