When you’re a seven-year-old boy being transported in a container by human traffickers, it helps to have a cell phone. According to 50-year-old Liz Clegg, the story of the child’s life-saving text message arose from volunteer work Clegg did at the Calais Jungle camp, a camp in Calais, France that houses hundreds of migrants, reports the NY Post.
It was in that camp that Clegg distributed dozens of phones to children as a way for them to communicate with someone in the event they found themselves in a rough spot. And unfortunately, that’s what happened to Ahmed, a seven-year-old Afghan boy who, along with 14 other migrants, were being illegally transported to an unknown location.
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Using the phone he had been given, Ahmed frantically texted Clegg, broken English and all. “I ned halp darivar no stap car no oksijan in the car no signal iam in the cantenar. Iam no jokan valla,” read the text. Clegg figured out that the text stated, “I need help. The driver won’t stop the car. No oxygen in the car. No signal. I’m in a container. I am not joking, I swear to God.”
Clegg then called Tanya Freedman, a member of the London-based charity Help Refugees, and Freedman alerted the authorities. By tracing the phone’s location to a highway service station in Leicestershire, England, police intercepted the truck and found the 15 oxygen-starved migrants, including Ahmed.
“It was absolutely nerve-wracking, waiting to see if the police could find this boy in time to save his life,” said Freedman.
One man was arrested on suspicion of illegal trafficking, while several others were held on suspicion of entering England illegally. Ahmed, meanwhile, was placed under protective custody due to his age. Understandably, Freedman is still beside herself as to how all of this unfolded.
“It’s extraordinary that a seven-year-old boy knew his life was in danger and had the presence of mind to know what to do and give the right information and save himself and the others in the truck. We hope he’s getting the right kind of care.”