Simply by virtue of my place of birth I can put on dry warm boots, open my back door and walk safely, whenever and virtually wherever I wish. Last but not least – my family can travel freely across Europe and North America and return whenever they wish so that we can laugh and walk together sharing our stories.
In 2016 that does not apply to everyone, in fact, it does not apply to at least 65 million folk displaced around the world.
My boots have been with me to some unexpected places this year; they’ve been with me on two trips to what was known as the ‘Calais Jungle’.
On my first visit I discovered that a pair of boots was a much sought after item. Shoes were distributed in the camp on Tuesdays which soon became known as Shoesday – imagine people across Europe thinking ‘Monday, Shoesday, Wednesday, Thursday….’!
Here were people who had walked away in one pair of boots, away from hatred, away from war, away from persecution, they should have been walking into the warm embrace of love and sanctuary, they should have experienced a movement of love.
Sadly that was rarely the case.
The volunteers in Calais were the rare exception – they responded with love, they responded to a need, an obvious, desperate need – they moved with love towards the refugees and then stayed alongside them.
On my return to the UK I related my story to an elderly friend…………………
June listened to my story and responded with love ‘I’ll give you Gordon’s boots’ Gordon, her dearly beloved husband died two years ago, she had not got rid of his boots, they held precious memories but now she could let them go. Now somebody else, somebody she will never meet has comfortable, dry feet because of her gift.
As the weather worsens and the plight of the refugees falls off the media agenda could you dig out a pair of stout shoes or boots, could you perhaps go out and buy a brand new pair? Then you could pop in a message of love and support just like this:
And donate them to one of the many grassroots organisations distributing to the refugees across Europe.
Then this movement of love would be moving practically across the continent helping people to walk towards a future where love prevails.
The slogan chosen by ‘Help Refugees’ for their T shirt is one I am proud to wear as I relish my freedom to roam. It is plain and simple:
Could you……………………….CHOOSE LOVE, SEND BOOTS………..this winter?
Helen Burnett is Curate of St. Luke’s Whyteleafe and St. Peter and St Paul’s Chaldon, Surrey and has a passion for social justice.