Norwich church sends 300 food bags to refugee camp
A life group from a Norwich church has sent almost 300 emergency food bags to a refugee camp in Dunkirk, France, which was hit by a huge fire a few weeks ago, after a plea for help.
Members of a Gateway Vineyard Norwich Life Group have previously held collections of items for the refugees and donated these to CAMCrag, a registered charity based in Cambridge that collects donated items and transports them to France where they are distributed to those who need it.
On April 10 a large fire broke out in the Grande Synthe camp at Dunkirk, destroying shelters and volunteer-run kitchens. The camp was home to 1,700 refugees – including 150 women and more than 200 children - who have fled bloodshed and oppression in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Hundreds are now being temporarily housed in nearby sports centres but the whereabouts of many others is unknown.
Immediately after the fire, CAMCrag put out a call for Emergency Food Bags which could be taken to those refugees fleeing this latest destruction. The members of the Life Group rose to the challenge, aiming to fill 100 bags within a week.
Group member Michelle Evans, also co-owner of Green Pastures Plant Centre in Bergh Apton, said ““We knew this was something we could help with and felt called by God to do. We quickly put a shout out to all our life group members, the villagers of Bergh Apton and people attending the Yare Valley Filling Station (which meets at the garden centre).
“I also contacted our food suppliers to see if they would be willing to donate items. Each bag contains water, fruit juice, cereal and chocolate bars, dried fruit and nuts and tins of fish so we needed a lot of donations. We only had a very short period of time as the food was urgently needed and we knew a CAMCrag convoy would be heading to Dunkirk in the first week of May.
“We were so blessed and amazed by people’s generosity. From customers who brought in their bags and boxes of food saying that they ‘just wanted to help’, to our suppliers who gave so much. We were absolutely astounded when a van arrived from Rainbow Wholefoods with a whole pallet of food. It was at that point we knew that we could fill many more than 100 bags,” said Michelle.
Volunteers filled the restaurant at the Garden Centre on April 26 to unpack the boxes and re-pack the food into individual bags.
Alwyn Evans, life group leader, said: “When we got to the end of the night we were astounded to find that we had filled 281 bags of food. We want to thank everyone who donated items, money or time to making this happen. It will make a real difference to people’s lives, people who have already lost everything and who watched their little piece of security burn to the ground. We believe that Jesus calls us to help others and we love to find ways to do that.”
The food was transported to Cambridge the following day and delivered to Dunkirk the following week.
For more information about CAMCrag visit their website www.camcrag.org.uk or their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/camb4calais/.
Pictured above are members of the Gateway Vineyard Church filling emergency food bags at the Green Pastures Plant Centre.