On the 21th October 2015 we set off from Bhaktivedanta Manor with two vehicles loaded with Prasad and provisions such as sleeping bags, tents, clothes etc. We were heading to a place called the " Jungle ", just outside of, Calais in France, where there were 6,000 refugees struggling to survive in the worst conditions imagable.
After a short ferry crossing we arrived at the refugee camp. It was raining, mud everywhere, people were wandering around aimlessly, desperation on their faces. Within seconds of arriving we realised that the situation was much worse than we expected. Some people had been living here for 3 months or more. There were a dozen portable toilets , no showers, no communal buildings, no kitchen, a few people were trying to cook some porridge on a open fire. It is an automatic expectation that there would be someone in charge or at least some kind of order, But no, not here in the jungle. So we just drove down through the water and mud into the heart of it, and got on with the mission.
It was a little scary to be honest. Hundreds of desperate people surrounded the van. The first task was to get people to make a queue which needed all hands on deck, and our team sprung to action. Soon we were distributing delicious rice, subji, cake, apple pie, apples and oranges. We were going as fast as possible as it was important to keep up the momentum , if we spaced out the volatile situation could kick off.
Desperate suffering people were pointing to their muddy feet , broken shoes and sandals, no socks, and going without a bath for months, and they stood in the relentless rain with tears in their eyes. We had the shoes they needed but it would create a riot if we were to attempt to distribute them.
After a few thousand plates of Prasad were distributed we reflected on how we were going to distribute a van load of clothes. So we opened the back door of the van, drove and started throwing the bags out, left and right, as we drove around the camp. The clothes were quickly snapped up and we were able to cover most of the camp, " Indiana Jones" style.
We are distributors of Prasad, we don't claim know the reasons why these people are here and what are the political solutions, civil wars, bombings, weapons of mass destructions, illegal wars, or maybe people coming to the UK to get a better life. We do know that these people are eternal spirit souls suffering the pangs of material existence, and are in need of special mercy.
Srila Prabhupada was not averse to helping the "needy". In Mumbai my wife Moksha Laxmi was instructed by Srila Prabhupada to start a school for the street kids who were coming to the temple. He also wanted to have clothes for them.