It intends to show that there is no ‘us & them’ – that people’s lives are united in ordinary events, hopes and dreams and can be torn apart by extraordinary circumstances not of our own making.
The project has been initiated by a group of digital workers (web developers, designers, illustrators, animators, photographers and writers). Our eyes have been opened through the stories told and photographs taken by people living in The Jungle camp in Calais.
We feel connected to these people, whose dreams are not so very different from our own – yet so much further from becoming a reality.
The ‘Jungle’ was an assault on the senses, human beings languishing in diabolical, unsanitary conditions in the centre of civilised Western Europe. Mountains of rubbish, left to fester. Portable toilets, literally overflowing. A sea of ramshackle ‘homes’ as far as the eye could see, made from tents, tarpaulins and pieces of wood, lovingly crafted and erected as best people could manage with whatever materials available, personalised and decorated with colours and symbols of home, flags of Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria welcoming you, along with a cheery ‘hello’ as you entered.
The overwhelming majority of those who were in the camp have fled war, violence and persecution, suffering unspeakable tragedies, and travelling countless miles on perilous journeys, losing everything, sometimes everyone they’ve ever loved, in the hope of finding a better life in Europe, in the hope of being reunited with their families already in the UK. Instead they were greeted with fences and barriers, forced to live in squalor on the doorstep of two of the richest and most powerful countries in the world.
Despite these obstacles, the strength of the human spirit prevailed in the camp. People created make-shift community and art centres, places of worship and congregation, out of the most meagre of materials. A life, out of nothing.
In late October 2016 the French government demolished the camp, dispersing thousands of people to ‘resettlement centres’ across France to face a frighteningly uncertain future – separated from the support of their communities, their hopes of reaching the UK dashed. Of around 1,000 unaccompanied children, some have finally come to the UK. Some have been registered by the French authorities and have also been dispersed across France, living in isolation from their friends and many suffering mental health problems. Many children and vulnerable adults have still not been registered and are having to sleep rough – cold, scared, hungry and at risk of falling victim to traffickers.