Earlier this month, six local men from Beeston visited the refugee camp in Dunkirk, Calais, to deliver around 500 hampers which were organised by local Leeds volunteers and children.
The mission was organised in the memory of 36 year-old Amjid Karim’s brother, Rashid, who passed away on 1st January 2015.
Amjid, a youth worker, wanted to do something that his brother would be proud of, so he cooked up a plan with Manazar Hussain, Naser Khan, Tack Maskin, Junade Akram and Sajid Hussain.
The giving group, aged between 24 and 36, decided to set sail to France to help and support refugees in camps in whichever way they could.
Prior to departure, the charitable chaps began raising funds for the trip, eventually bringing in £6,000 to help with the purchase of essentials such as gas, oil, fresh fruit and bread.
Amjid said: “We were inundated with dummies, baby wipes, milk bottles, ibuprofen, paracetamol and all the basic medical care. The local community were so fantastic.
“There were a lot of vulnerable people out there, especially children, so our priority was to get these children shoes on their feet, food, energy bars and some gas in the tents.
“I wish I had recorded some of their reactions because their smiles are something money can’t buy.
“It’s that connection, that warmth, from both children and adults who are living their lives minute-to-minute – not knowing what tomorrow will bring.”
Amjid said there were between 2,500 to 3,000 people in the camp at Dunkirk in a ‘dire’ situation.
He continued: “The queues in some of the camps snaked around for miles, with 300 people in each line. When we got to speak to the family members who had been in the camps for months on end, they basically told us that they wanted to go back to their own countries.
“However, due to the war and conflict they were stuck. They said it was not their choice. From what we’ve seen, they were really thankful for what we were doing for them. It becomes a duty. It’s a human crisis and you’re seeing it first-hand. Your heart actually bleeds for these people.”
As well as food supplies, Amjid and his group took footballs to the camp and played with the kids.
He said: “It was such a buzz to have a kick around. Words can’t explain the difference it made.
“Giving out chocolate bars, packet of crisps, fruit juices – it made those kids’ day. We also took over some clothes, jackets so that they could stay warm. It was like Eid or Christmas had come early for them.”
Amjid didn’t advertise his trip in any shape or form but suggests that the young people of Yorkshire should go over there and ‘learn and appreciate what we take for granted in life’.
“Whether you’re Muslim, Catholic, Protestant or Atheist – it makes no difference. It is an eye-opener to see so many agencies out there,” he said.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to the local community and businesses who have contributed massively to this cause it just goes to show how caring these people are when it comes to think of those who are less fortunate than themselves.”