Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Supporting homeless refugees in Paris with cups of Solidarithé

Down and Out in Paris and London

It is far from an easy life living on the streets of France's capital city, just read a bit of the book Down and Out in Paris and London to find out how George Orwell got on. Today, eighty five years later and life as a homeless refugee 'sans papier' living rough on the streets of Paris life is pretty grim.

Many hundred of young men, from Sudan, Aghanistan and Eritrea are sleeping on the streets of the area in Paris called Porte de La Chapelle.  The voluntary group Solidarithé gives out free cups of hot, sweet tea and coffee every evening on the Boulevard Ney.

While in France in July 2017, I drove a delivery of tea and coffee to Paris.  I stayed for a week and volunteered with the French charity Utopia56 and Solidarithé.

Supporting refugees with a cup of Solidarithé

I saw that the queue for the one hot meal the guys receive, provided daily by the city authorities, is often fraught with tension and sometimes simmering wth frustration (and that is just how the stewards feel) but tea time is a much calmer affair.  Around 8pm is a time of respite, a period of relative calm, the guys take a few moments to saviour a hot drink laced with spoonfuls of sugar, and they then chat with their mates, attend an art workshop or take a language class sat on the pavement.  Newcomers receive information sheets with a map and addresses of useful government offices, voluntary groups, charities, clinics located in and around Paris.

The small favour done by Solidarithé doesn't solve the problem of homelessness among refugees, but it does lift moral and it is a vital service.

To keep going, Solidarithé needs to muster vast quantities of paper cups, many kilos of coffee, thousands of tea bags, dozens of sacks of sugar, pens, colouring pencils, paper, exercise books, art equipment, and all this costs money and takes effort.

If you want to volunteer your time, give money, or donate essentials then please visit the Solidarithé Facebook page.
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