February 2016

Shakela returns to Calais refugee camp on aid mission

Read time: approx 2 mins

A University student is preparing to deliver emergency supplies at the refugee camp known as the Jungle in Calais.

It will be Shakela Bibi’s second visit to the makeshift settlement of tents and shacks where thousands of people live in squalid conditions. Shakela, 27, who is studying Specialist Hair and Media Make-up, put together an aid convoy in September and will return to Calais on Friday with another group of volunteers.

Among them will be Shazeena Khan, 18, a fellow Hair and Media Make-up student. The group plans to deliver donations of clothing and tinned food as well as fresh food supplies such as bread and fruit. UCB will be donating supplies of bread made our students at the University’s bakeries in Summer Row.

Shakela, from Birmingham, explained how she had previously helped charity campaigns in Pakistan and Haiti and became aware of the desperate conditions in the Jungle via social media. Until she saw images of the camp on Facebook and WhatsApp, she thought the situation was under control.

Shakela decided to launch the first aid delivery with her uncle, Usman Zaman, and was overwhelmed by the generosity of local people in Birmingham who donated clothing for children and adults as well as food and first aid supplies.

The group put together individual fruit bags containing an apple, an orange and a banana, which they purchased from local traders in Calais.

Shakela admitted it was an overwhelming experience visiting the Jungle for the first time: “The first day we got there I felt a little intimidated. But that was while we were driving the car. Once we got out and about and met the refugees in person we realised they are lovely people.”

She said she felt compelled to collect and deliver aid supplies. “I just felt I had to do something to help. This crisis is so close to home. I feel that no human should have to live like the refugees do,” said Shakela.

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