After watching the news and reading stories of the desperate migrant situation in Calais, a Mobberley teacher and mother of four has decided to join the volunteer movement there.
Kay Pinto, who teaches four and five year olds at the Ryleys School in Alderly Edge, has set up a crowdfund page to finance a trip to help refugees living in the notorious ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais.
She is reaching out to anyone willing to donate money and clothing and will be driving to France in her brother’s van with her 25-year-old daughter Holly, and her daughter’s friend, Lauren.
Kay, whose own children range in age from 14 to 25, told MM: “I read a piece about a 13-year-old boy who is there with just his older brother and I realised that just because of fate, that person is there and not my own children.
“One day I thought ‘instead of getting upset about it, I better do something about it’.”
There are over 5,000 residents still living in the camp in Calais even after it was partially bull-dozed in February to limit encroachment into the ferry terminal route.
Most of the migrants are from war torn areas of the Middle East and Africa such as Syria and Sudan with over 500 children among them, three quarters of whom are alone.
The UK parliament recently voted on whether to accept 3,000 of the tens of thousands of unaccompanied child refugees currently in Europe.
The bill was initially voted down, with critics claiming it would be an invite for parents to send their children alone in the hope they will be more likely to be accepted.
After bouncing between the Lords and Commons, David Cameron has decided to accept a revised version of the bill which now omits an exact figure.
Kay said: “The feeling was very strong in parliament about it but I really think the Government are being too passive about the whole thing.
“Because nobody is doing anything, this big volunteer movement has sprung up.
“I’m not involved in anything political though, I’m just responding to the crisis and my purpose is solely humanitarian.”
Kay will be leaving at the end of the month and will stay for between four to five days, during which time she expects to help out with anything from transporting items and sorting out clothing to helping cook.
Having never been involved in volunteering like this before, Kate admitted she was feeling a little anxious ahead of the trip.
“I started researching it a lot because I was a little nervous at first but then I realised that there is a lot of organisation there now,” she said.
“Funnily enough, the scariest thing now actually – it’s not going to France, experiencing it and seeing the horror of it – it’s driving the van as I’m used to driving a small car!
“I will admit to being a bit worried about what I’ll see though.
“It might be very emotional and distressing but I’m hoping the fact that I’ll be up early every day, working hard and being, will balance it out. There will be a sense of purpose.”
Kay plans to return to Calais in August when she will have more time off during the summer break and hopes to be able to use her teaching skills.
She added: “I’ve pencilled in this second trip already because I know I’ll feel worse than I did before I went after I see the reality of the situation.
“It’s one thing reading about it but actually experiencing it is another thing.
“These people are fleeing because the life where they’ve come from is absolutely unbearable and I just want to help in any way I can.”
To help Kay with some of the estimated £500 expenses, click here.
Image courtesy of Gemes Sandor, via Wikipedia, with thanks