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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Givens

Come and See

Are you interested in living and working together with displaced people? Is your heart touched by the suffering of others? Do you ever wish you could do something to alleviate the difficulties faced by people on the move?


If so, I know just the place for you: The Maria Skobtsova House in Calais, France. I understand that coming all the way to France to work is a big ask for my American friends. Most of our volunteers come from across Europe. However, I have never seen someone volunteer here and not be changed in a meaningful way. When you work in Calais you fall in love and you become enraged. You love the people you serve and develop meaningful, deep relationships with them. You become enraged at the systems that make our work here necessary and you want to work to change them.

If you work here, you will spend many relatively “boring” days. You will make beds, wash laundry, wash dishes, sweep, and mop. You will also welcome new guests and spend much time eating delicious food and drinking coffee while talking with the guests and learning their stories. There is also plenty of laughter and music. An occasional impromptu dance and karaoke night will break out. You will grow to love and appreciate these days of relative quiet and camaraderie.


There will also be times when your heart is broken. When a woman or family you have grown to know and love suddenly leaves, and you are left wondering whether they are alive or dead until you one day receive a celebratory message letting you know they are safe and sound and have reached their goal.

You will experience secondhand trauma while hearing women who were confronted by the local authorities, and against whom many human rights abuses were carried out. You will be trusted and essential in helping these same women pick up the pieces of their broken dreams.

You will also experience moments of great joy. You will hear the stories of people who have not only reached their goal, but who have accomplished amazing feats that you never thought possible. You will rejoice and join in the celebration of birthdays and various religious feasts and festivals. You will enjoy outstanding cuisine from around the world, cooked by people who are simply happy to have a safe space in which to prepare food from their own culture.

You will join prayer times throughout the day. This house has a mission of being a prayerful presence in Calais. You will lift up the local authorities and the women and families we serve and entrust them into the arms of our loving God.


No, it is not easy work. But it is good work. You will be equal parts challenged and uplifted. Volunteering is free, but there is a cost. The cost is that you are willing to be vulnerable amongst some of the most vulnerable people in the world. But the rewards far exceed the costs. Please, come and join us.

If you are interested, please contact us at givenscalais@gmail.com or on Facebook at Givens’ Mission to Calais.

We would love to have more Americans come and see. You cannot help but be changed.

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