I worked with lovely nurse Brighid during my January trip and she managed the below facebook post. (She’s back and forth to the Jungle so you can read more on her page). Since I managed to write nothing at all, she said it was ok for me to share the below…
HELLO!!!!! I had hoped to be able to write a daily account of my time in the Calais Jungle but the last few days have been full on and also slightly insane. I still hope to try. I have yet to spend a whole day at the caravans as one of few that has a car I tend to go out on missions. We have also been fairly well staffed. We had 17 in our team to cover 3 caravans over the weekend and I hear there are 25 of us this weekend. For anyone who has been in a caravan you will appreciate how cramped they are.
Some of us have been packing bags and going into the camp on out reach which in terms of seeing women and children works really well.
I’m still working out the camp….it is huge! The main groups are Afghans, Syrians, Pakistani, Sudanese and Eritrean and kurdish. Within these groups it gets complicated as to what region of those countries they are from. I have realised how ignorant I am and really need to look at a map! The camp is a buzz at with restaurants , shops, bread shops we walked past a night club last night! There is also churches and a school. In many ways this is great as there is a real sense of community and shows the strength of human spirit. Many of the shops offer a warm community space for people to be. If not for these spaces the health issues related to exsposure would be far greater. But it other ways it shows a permanency of the camp. The last few nights our regular haunt has been a resturant close to our caravans run by 3 Pakistani men. They called it The 3 idiots. (I have to find out why) Each night we go in we are treated to the most amazing spread of food for less than a few quid each and the 3 men will laugh and joke with us often forgeting we are in the middle of a refugee camp. However, behind the smiling eyes I sense all 3 have given up hope they will ever leave the camp and have settled for running the resturant. Perhaps that’s the reason behind the name…?
There is a lot of stories and buzz about plans to destroy the first 100m of camp. The idea is to form a buffer zone between the road and camp so when clashes with police occur it dose not spill onto the main motorway road. All great in theory however this is where many of the businesses are. The police had a meeting with community elders to explain and ask them to move back. Great yes? No….They have 2 days or they will be bulldozed. We have been briefed for trouble ahead and asked to prepare eye wash solutions with crushed anti acids for tear gas injuries.
Much of those coming to the caravans are coughs colds and people just needing a little tlc but many also get injuries sustained from police brutality and climbing fences and lorries. There is a large number of women and children here. Many are housed in the protected areas or in caravans. I was told by Leila, another of the first aid volunteers the ratio of men to women is 9:1. A huge number of families with young children have settled in Dunkirk. A Camp 30 minutes drive away. I had thought coming here I would crumble at the sight of children and women but actually it’s the teenage boys that break my heart. We had a 16 year come with a hand injury yesterday. His only relative is his sister who is in UK. One of the volunteers is hoping he may have a case to be able to get asylum but he tries every night to jump on the lorries to get to her. There is nothing here for him. Women and children have some form of protection and play areas. The teenagers fend for themselves in an often dark adult world which mentally they are not ready for. They act tough and checky but their eyes look haunted and lonely. I want to embrace them and tell them it be OK. I offer vicks rub with a smile instead.
I haven’t even gone into half of what I have seen. Im actually crying at that last thought now so need to sign off.
I have the morning off to sort out my accommodation. Will update you all soon.