“Thoughts on my visit to The Jungle, Calais”

The Refugee crisis is still with us and some of the needs remain desparate. While there are always developments e.g. the dismantling of the Jungle refugee camp and the plight of those who were living there, including unaccompanied minors, as caring human beings we dare not ignore what is taking place. A friend, Peter Potter, made a short visit and here are some of his thoughts.

“I was nervous and excited about this visit, it is something that I had wanted to do for a long time and delayed going until the winter night shelter was over.

Heading out early in small groups in cars rather than a van made it seem almost like a family outing, a visit to see extended family and friends.

A journey on the train through the Eurotunnel was new and exciting, lots and lots and lots of other families and friends on their journeys. The trip under the channel seemed to finish almost as it began.

Then the surroundings changed, the starkness of fences, high and daunting, were we being kept in or out? A short journey to desolation. Our family journey had ended quickly and this was now a journey to something new and slightly frightening.

Police presence puts up your defences as we are turned around and dictated to a parking space. A walk across a vastness of nothingness, destroyed homes, tattered garments, refuse, the sight of a rubber bullet shell and a gas canister. There are so many silent stories that are shouting to be heard.

The site of a building with a cross on top, a glimmer of hope, a welcome, a smile, a handshake, a hug, a church, a prayer, a presence of God, an oasis, a group saying the Lord’s Prayer, a sense of home! More smiles, a meal, a chat, making friends.

A reverting back to a family group, a friendly guide, a walk through desolation to a collection, a collection of sheds, dwellings, almost permanency, but still no life, no spirit, no hope, no children, no laughter.

Segregation, sheds become countries, although within a metres walk and not a journey of miles. I felt secure in our family group, felt like a father, a protector, in an unknown place, ever watchful for unknown hazards and dangers.

We see a starkness, a sanitised space, more separation, segregation, white, cleansed, emptiness, containment, high fences, security, unfriendly, a danger, walk by, silence.

We are turned away as foreigners, a surprise in an area designated for aliens and refugees that we that are visitors are labelled as foreigners.

A hot tea with friends, laughter, hugs, smiles, greetings, over too quick.

Return to church, return to sanctuary, return to cars, return to tunnel, return to England, return to home, pray, pray for hope.

It’s not a Jungle, Jungle has life and hope for growth, this was a junkyard – no life, no hope, needs hope to be planted and spread.”

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