When I was writing I am Amira back in 2015 I became very involved in writing the story, researching each day and drawing the pictures. I was out of work so it was easy to devote a lot of time to it. The crisis became my muse and The story pretty much wrote itself emerging naturally out of the research I was doing.
Unfortunately as Amira and her family got closer to Europe I got increasingly despondent. By that time things were changing fast lots of the borders were closing up. I felt scared for Amira and her family. I simply didn’t know how to write about their journey across Europe. I felt ashamed about what I might discover.
In order to escape this writers block I decided that the time had come to meet some refugees. I was lucky to have a lovely friend who had been living in the jungle refugee camp in Calais for 7 months. So my beautiful dog and I went over for a visit. And it was amazing. I met refugees from every country. I met some lovely volunteers. I drove Esther and some other activists to be see the court case against Rob Laurie, a volunteer who had tried to smuggle a little girl across to the UK to stop her family having to make her do that horribly dangerous journey. An amazing experience of the power and integrity of the French judicial system. Rob had the charges substantially dropped and got off with a suspended sentence. This was not the outcome we feared. We had a very joyful journey back to th jungle. The jungle itself was amazingly organised with the whole area divided into sub regions. One region for each nationality or culture. I worked in the Ashram Kitchen which made free meals daily from donated food.Refugees and volunteers worked side by side preparing, cooking, serving and clearing up. It was a lovely hopeful project.
The dog was a huge success. The refugees loved hugging him and telling me about their dogs back home.. I called him my therapy dog.
After 3 days I had to return home to a new teaching job in Swindon. And all my time disappeared… No more writing.
But I didn’t give up learning more about Syria.