Reflecting on 5 weeks in ‘The Jungle’ – Calais’ Refugee Camp.

If you can’t imagine yourself loosing your home and family, and then having to leave behind your country and all the memories that you made there, then I think you have something inside you missing.

In ‘The Jungle’, there is no vegetation, no waterfalls, and certainly no wild animals and as of the end of today, there will be no people.

The trees are withered and leafless, only decorated with plastic rubbish and clothing that never had the opportunity to dry.

The ground is thick with sludge and flooded due to the uneven ground. Even insects choose against inhabiting the underground.

The naming of ‘The Jungle’ camp is just a slither of the propaganda pie that the UK media has cooked up during the refugee crisis occurring in Calais.

Even when you’re there, the situation is almost impossible to understand. Rumours spread like wildfire and important information gets blurred in translation. It never helps when the translator goes by the name of The Daily Mail or The Sun. So here’s my perspective.

Spending four weeks in Calais opened my eyes whilst simultaneously breaking my heart. The battle of contrasts is ongoing. Every moment took me a step further into a journey that I now feel so passionately about, that I can now educate others and open their eyes to the poverty and injustice being endured just 22 miles from the British coast.

I met and became friends with men, women and children fleeing conflict and war in their home countries.

Men that have been forced to sacrifice their homes. To leave their wives and children, never knowing if they’ll see them again, chasing a tiny glimmer of a better life for them all.

Children that have grown up, illegally crossing six or seven borders alone. Driven away from their homes by torturous memories of the murder of their family members.

Women who fled because their homes have been destroyed and it became unsafe to simply walk to the shop without the risk of a bomb being dropped from above.

To go through such extremities and to see the Calais camp as a place of refuge shows what life was previously like for these people.

They are escaping terrifying realities that are not only being ignored, but caused and badly controlled by governments across the globe.

I find irony in how Britain, America and Russia have managed to dig deep into their supposedly moth bitten pockets to find some spare change to fund these wars, but leave nothing for those that are directly affected.

When most will sit on their sofa in their houses, nod their heads at the TV screen and make a passing comment about how terrible this is, there are a minority working to keep these people alive, to ignite a blemmer of hope into their lives again and encourage change.

In the camp, the residents go without things we in the west consider bare necessities and wouldn’t think twice about. Hot running water, electricity, dry socks and sleeping bags are considered an absolute luxury.

Growing children scuff their tiny feet along the ground in trainers far too big for their feet, or sometimes bare.

Two, three, four grown men are crammed into tiny tents that are unable to withstand the high winds and torrential rain. The lucky ones have a shed sized shelter, between four people to call a home, with no window, beds or heat. The below zero temperature takes it’s toll with an impossible number of people falling ill every day, unable to seek professional medical attention that they require.

Regardless of their current situation and that they possess very little, there is never a shortage of invitations to share what they do have, always tea, food and many stories.

Spending time in these situations is what awakens your mind to the things that we really need, crave and thrive from. It’s not money or materialism but human relationship and connection that opens our minds to understanding the situations that they have been through to get this far, and avoid imminent death in their home coutries.

I ask you to question what you would have to offer if you were stripped of your job, material possessions, family and limits put on your freedom?

What kind of person would you be?

What would you do?

What will you do?


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