The crisis of refugees from countries destroyed by war is the main subject in the international media. Desperate families looking for a peaceful and quiet life are facing the European resistance which builds fences against them. There are also positive examples of people who give refugees a hand. This is the case of Linda and Yves from Calais who housed Sayid when he needed a shelter. Their story is told by The Guardian.
Sayid is a 20 years old Syrian and one of the thousands of immigrants who reached Calais. Like the others, he was living in miserable conditions, he was hungry and thirsty. Out of despair, he knocked at the doors of the natives but doors were closing in his face, which didn’t surprise him. A teacher who lives on one of the streets near the centre offered the young person a sandwich and water and this is how it started a nice friendship.
“He said in English that he was hungry”, says Linda Aubry. Because he was a stranger, the teacher told Sayid to wait a little bit, closed the door and returned outside with a snack and something to drink. She doesn’t have an explanation for what she did but she thinks it’s the normal thing to do.
Sayid is a Syrian refugee who fled his country destroyed by war and got to Calais in the summer of 2014. He is one of the thousands of refugees who dared to follow this dangerous road to Calais, port city from the Northern part of France, from where there is only one step to Great Britain.
The influx of migrants in the last decade put its print on Calais port. Sauvons Calais Organization is one of the anti-immigration voices from the city which radically expresses its feelings. There are also people who voluntarily teach French to children from the refugee camp or give first aid in the hospital on site founded by Doctors of the World. But not many people went that far as Linda and her family who fed Sayid for weeks in a row, first on the street, then as their guest at the table and then invited him to live with them.
Sayid left Syria after the war started, going first in Egypt, before embarking on a fishing vessel to Lampedusa and reaching France in the end, crossing Italy. From here, he made efforts to reach Great Britain in order to reunite with his brother.
The cohabitation was not easy, Sayid being used to criticize Linda and her husband’s 20-year old daughter because she was not married or didn’t cover her hair. “I explained that in France women and men have the same rights and that we are a secular country. He said yes, but I think it was difficult for him to understand”, says Linda.
Yves, Linda’s husband, explains what made him house the young refugee. “My Polish grandmother was sent to Auschwitz. She left my mother in Paris, who was kept hidden by her nurse”, he says. Linda, who comes from an Italian catholic family, says that her grandparents went to Paris from Italy in the 1930’s, without any money, because they didn’t find a job. “Our stories are not that different. But I really don’t know why I did this. Maybe due to a feeling of guilt, because we have this house, this life and we don’t deserve them more or less than him”, adds Yves about the motivation of his gesture.
The man said that living together was difficult due to cultural differences, but he would do this again if he should. He also hopes that if his daughter needs help in other corner of the world will be helped as well by a family. Yves also says that the neighbours were outraged by the fact that they received a migrant in their house.
After two months of cohabitation, the Syrian left as unexpectedly as he came. Two days later, he called to inform Linda and Yves that he got to UK, where he was disappointed to find out that his brother whom he hasn’t seen for 16 years left to Canada. Sayid applied for asylum in Great Britain but he was refused and he doesn’t receive help from the British government in the present. He talks with affection about the family that adopted him in France and hopes to manage to make amends in the future, although his future is very uncertain for the moment.