Before I tackle the House of Lords Children in Crisis report on unaccompanied refugee children in the EU, I really need to replace that mould–riddled shower curtain. On-line, I am torn between one featuring a tranquil rainforest scene and one called ‘Hitchcock’. But it turns out the latter is just a plain see-through plastic curtain, whereas I’d expected something a bit more Psycho-ish. Habitat definitely missed a trick there. I learn however, on a little Google detour, that for several years after shooting the scene Janet Leigh preferred to take baths instead of showers.
Shower curtain ordered, I read through the report. Some of the facts are desperately worrying: 10,000 unaccompanied refugee minors missing in the EU. 10,000? What on earth has happened to them? One statistic leaps off the page: 50% of the children arriving in Italy’s Save the Children’s programme have been found to have an STD. This gives some clue as to the level of sexual abuse which is happening en route. As for those others, those 10,000, sex trafficking is one very possible reason for their disappearance. Finding them and bringing them to safety should take top priority.
Here in the UK, despite the government agreeing back in May this year to give sanctuary to unaccompanied refugees under the age of 18 (the Dubs Amendment), not one child has been allowed in. Unless we keep up the pressure for them to deliver on their promise, these children are in danger of falling off the radar.
In the afternoon, I nip down to the dentist’s for the chipped tooth. Hussein looks a bit like Jake Gyllenhaal with slicked back hair. He peers inside my mouth and tells me I’ll need a composite filling which will set me back around £200. He also tells me that my shoddy flossing technique has resulted in a further deepening of the Periodontal Pockets to around 4 mm deep. I know from Googling that Periodontal Pockets are no laughing matter and that if they reach crisis level, i.e a depth of 6 mm, they can require flap surgery.
To take my mind of flap surgery (aka having your gums surgically separated from your teeth with a scalpel to allow access for the clean up operation, then sewn back), I have a heated debate with Hussein about my dislike of flossing (food debris all over the bathroom mirror, bits of thready floss trailing from sleeves). I throw in a grumble about the price of those plastic dental sticks which bend after just one probing, when you could easily wash and reuse them at least a couple of times. Finally, to stop things spiralling out of all proportion, I ask Hussein if he would be up for going out to the Calais camp to do some emergency dental work. He immediately says yes.
On the walk home I think about all the people, I’ve recently come across who are doing what they can to help: Cecelia Bittner, who moved from the UK to work in the Calais Kitchens; the 82 year old Greek grandmother who uses her pension to help house and feed refugees; the 22 big-hearted bloggers who have formed Bloggers for Refugees. Not to mention every one of those generous souls who donated much-needed clothes, food, footwear, tents, sleeping bags etc to CalAid to the value of £5.5 million.* If there’s any good to come from this, then it’s proof that when we all pull together, we can make stuff happen, regardless of whether or not the government is playing its part.
At my desk again, I do some costing research for the new fundraising pack. I discover that £15 could buy a mattress so a Syrian refugee doesn’t have to sleep on the ground and £50 will feed a family of four for two months. So that little bit of composite filling, smaller than a sunflower seed, could help keep four families fed for eight weeks. Funny old world.
*not £5.5 million in hard cash as I mistakenly wrote last week.
To donate to: CalAid
To help speed up the process of allowing unaccompanied child refugees into the UK: Help Refugees
To donate to Citizens UK who are helping to resettle refugees in the UK.
This article is taken from my Huffington Post blog.