During our time in Calais, we were lucky enough to meet and help people from many parts of the world, who were more than grateful enough to tell their stories about how they ended up where they were. It was our pleasure to meet a young girl, Maryam, and her father, Ahmad, and to help them by providing essential dental care. We would like to take this time to tell her story and hope that people may understand what drives people to come to Calais.
Ahmad left Iran with his wife and two children after converting to Christianity. While worship is permitted under the constitution, conversion to Christianity can be a crime meriting a sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment. Fearing for his safety, Ahmad sought refuge elsewhere.
Ahmad’s asylum claim was rejected in Denmark, and he found himself and his family in Calais, living between temporary accommodation and camps in the fields and industrial parks.
Ahmad, his wife and his two children, Maryam, seven, and Benjamin, two, have attempted the perilous journey across the English Channel three times. None of which have been successful.
Deprived of a place to stay, healthcare and all the essentials a young girl needs have been particularly hard on Maryam, who was hospitalised after a dinghy they were on capsized in the Channel. Traumatised by the experience, she and her family continue to live in Calais due to the help of amazing local groups, including Care4Calais, a charity we partnered with during our time there.
Maryam is just one of thousands of stories from the people in Calais and across Northern France, and one of hundreds who we helped in our brief two days there. We cannot find a home for Maryam or her family on our own, but thanks to the work of everybody who supports the Town Hall Foundation, we could provide her with relief from the tooth pain that was keeping her awake during the cold nights in their tent.
Thanks to your help, by donating, by visiting the practice, by taking part in networking events at The Room, we have been able to support Maryam and the hundreds like her, and we want to do more. This would not have been possible without you, and we’re incredibly grateful.
Thanks again from all of us,
The Town Hall Team