Bengaluru students volunteer at refugee camp in France

Having heard the plight of refugees after their camps were burnt down, Amrutamshu Iyengar could relate to the conditions in which they survived.

This student also had an opportunity to contribute his bit to help a group of refugees in Calais, in the northern tip of France.

Amrutamshu was among 12 other students from Trio World Academy in Bengaluru who visited France as part of an educational trip. While these students were denied direct access to refugee camps as they were below the age of 18, these school students could work with voluntary organisations that help improve the living conditions for the refugees.

"We had the opportunity to work at a warehouse for four days. It was here that we understood the condition of refugees. Some of them live in shacks, some have nothing but sleeping bags and a few others live on the streets. These are people who have been displaced from home due to various factors and it is sad to see their conditions," said Amrutamshu.

The students worked at the warehouse sorting the materials that were received as a donation. Amrutamshu said this gave them exposure to some of the conditions under which the refugees lived.

"We would sort clothes that could either be reused or be recycled through our stay here," he explained.

The activity was part of an educational trip co-ordinated by one of the teachers, Chandniee. "We left on March 19 and returned on April 4. It was a 12-member group which had children between the ages 16 and 19. It was part of a Research Bound Outreach programme," she said.

Chandniee explained that having the children volunteer for the refugees to get them hands-on experience involved a lot of effort.

"We tried reaching out to voluntary organisations who work there. One of them obliged and we took that forward," she said.

"The volunteering work would begin early in the morning with a briefing session by their floor managers, and end by evening. Trio students also attended a Field Training Course organised by Utopia 56 on how to work on the field for the betterment of refugees getting educated on the dos and don'ts while interacting with them," Chandniee added.

She later clarified that the volunteers they worked with said that this was the first time that students from India participated in such activities.

"It's a great feeling to be indirectly helping the refugees though we don't get to see who these clothes will go to because we know that we have helped them keep warm from the cold," said Tushara, another student of Year 1 IB Diploma.

"It is a matter of immense pride. We wish to give any kind of support that they need to realize their dreams and would love to witness more such participation in the days to come," said Naveen K M, managing director, Trio World Academy.

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