Thursday, 23 February 2017

Rice, lice and nice.

Ooooft, what a day!

It started off with cooking 100kg of rice. That's 100kg of uncooked rice which equates to 5 large pots of of cooked rice, or to use the parlance of the day 'a metric shit-ton'. It's literally twice as much rice as I have ever cooked before, and it was mental. It took myself, Kira, and Sandy all morning, and while it wasn't quite a good as normal, it got done and out on time, despite my internal panic of messing the whole thing up. Kira spent so long doing the extra rice for the lunchtime outreach boxes that when she went to go get herself some lunch from the volunteer service area there was no curry left, only rice. She was so fed up of rice at this point she just walked away. The darker side to this is simply, more rice means there are more people needing it. We are now up to 100 boxes at lunch, and 200 in the evening for outreach alone, which is nuts, and the numbers are jumping up daily. At the moment we are coping well as it's half-term and we have lots of people, but come next week it's going to be much tougher when the numbers of volunteers drop off again.

As soon as the rice was ready I went out on hot food distro. We are currently in the midst of storm Doris and to say it was windy was an understatement. This made life hard as the wind would pick up food out of the gastro trays and send it flying down the camp, but we coped with the aid of lots of rocks and some friendly camp residents and kids. Actually the sun came out to for a bit which made it nice, despite it being bitterly cold. It turned out to be one of those days you think you're going to hate, but actually ended up enjoying. I got to spend time with some of the usual faces and made a couple of new friends, even though one of the cheeky lads said I looked like Donald Trump because I have a bronze coat. A refugee called Oscar came down with some tea to warm us up, and then another guy appeared with these sweet, fried batter pancake things, that were just sugar and fat, perfect for a cold day. They have such a sweet tooth it's unreal, every cup of tea has probably 2 or 3 heaped tablespoons of sugar in it.

I want to talk about their generosity a bit. These people have nothing, they live in broken garden sheds and half don't even have proper shoes, but what they do have they share freely and happily. I mentioned to my friend Zee the other week that I had skipped breakfast and was feeling hungry, 20 minutes later he turned up with Afgan eggs, basically a spicy tomato sauce, that you then fry the egg in. I haven't eaten eggs since I was about 6 years old, but out of respect for him I made the effort, I'm so glad I did, they were actually really nice. This is common place in camp. The guys who live in the community kitchens often bring us bits of the food they have cooked with the items we have served them from the free shops, most of it is pretty damn good, not the stewed mackerel though, that was grim. It's truly humbling!

So there was other news in camp today, which was they are going to try and stop people sleeping in the community kitchens due to large outbreaks of scabies, bedbugs and lice. The camp is run by a private contractor, Afeji, who have been given millions from the French government to do next to nothing. I think they are hoping that by stopping the hundreds of people who are sleeping in the kitchens, people will head off to the 'illegal' camps and become not their problem. This of course is the worst thing that could happen. I'm not sure what is going to happen to these hundreds of guys, I'm hoping maybe when they actually do a headcount and see the scale they might actually get off their asses and start addressing some of the real problems there in a proactive way, but there doesn't seem to be much hope of that. Recently we handed over repair duties to them, and day by day the sheds are looking worse, and worse. There is a real worry that because it's a job for them and they aren't invested in the same way volunteers are, that the site will get worse and worse, and it's already pretty awful.

Ok, that's enough for tonight, early too bed as I'm in the free shops again tomorrow so need my wits about me. I'm off to dream of rice.


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