Today tired tears flow
I must not forget, I must
Hold the images
A day with my grandchild
With this view.
Innocent learning of 16 months
Unfettered joy and humour
She sits on the beach and the sand
Falls from her hand
She laughs and we share
Sea shells and seaweed smells.
I remember the 2 Iraqi children
Playing in the litter ridden sand
Outside the caravan whose roof I had fixed.
They had the same innocence,
The same hopes and joy in simplicity.
I would love for them to meet
“A cold coming we had of it
Such a strange time
For this journey, such a journey
The thoughts deep and the weather hot
The start of summer.
The people tired, traumatised, accepting
Sitting round in a jungle camp.
Every day we questioned ourselves
Our secure homes, joyful families
The ease with which we live our lives.”
After a final day
When we donated a generator and shelving to Jungle Books,
Underpants, socks and cash to the charity we worked for –
Care 4 Calais
Thank you for so many generous donations from friends in the UK.
Thank you for making it possible.
This was a final day when
We painted signs to aid distribution,
Talked with more refugees from
Why are they not allowed into our rich and affluent island.
What are people afraid of?
Why doe s our government see what it is doing?
How do we think we have the right to wage war in distant lands
And then refuse to accept the fallout.
“I will do it again, and set down
This, set down
This; who has the right to determine
Another’s birth or death,
Freedom of movement and direction.
I return to my home, politicised again.
Will I be at ease.
How will I change.
What is the new story I tell.
Distribution seems to be the key.
Of energy, toothbrushes, bags of rice
Tarpaulins, padlocks, blankets.
Trainers size 43, underpants, socks
Small track suit bottoms, tins of chickpeas
Bags of sugar, saucepans, sleeping bags.
From the back of a transit or a container.
In organised drops to areas of the site.
Responsive or reactive.
To people in need, of course.
We are also scared that what is donated
Ends up in shops for profit.
So many, so needy.
Who are we to control the donations.
This is the issue, worldwide.
I fix a hasp and staple and give a padlock.
The man is so happy.
We offer to buy a generator to Jungle Books
Where everyday Kathryn has been teaching.
They can print, offer wifi and maintain a service.
I graffiti a mans wall – he shares his story
Of hope and sadness.
We laugh, he brings sweet tea.
I share tunes with a man from Eritrea
Whose smile will remain etched in my mind.
As we watch the sun set
Kathryn says to me.
‘What you do, you do with the right intention.
We came here to work
Quite quickly we have found purpose
In a self directed community
At the end of this day
My body feels battered and tired.
I have been digging ditches
To let waste water drain away
Directed by Steve,
Who is creating a space of permaculture
By the Ashram kitchen, where everyday at 4
They serve free food.
He is planting willow and buying reed plants.
The long view.
At the end of this day
My hands are bruised and hurt.
We have made another 5 homes safe from rain
With tarps and rope and wood scavenged from
Broken down shelters.
Grateful smiles from men from Iraq, Afghanistan
From the Sudan and Syria.
What have we done to allow this to happen?
Kathryn tells me
From her conversations with people
Who she is teaching English
That every night some manage to get over.
Every night they try.
There is a mafia that helps – they tell her.
She says to one
‘I hope I don’t see you tomorrow’ thinking that
Maybe this is his time.
In a strange way
It is also ours.
Soft sand underfoot
Bright new faces all around
Learning never stops
Today I covered three leaky homes
With tarpaulins and nails donated from who knows where
With sawn up pallets to stop tearing.
And grateful people offered sweet tea and cake.
Later I went to the youth club with instruments
A wood hut on the wasteland that was south camp
Where teenagers played pool and table football
Then joined me in a long session of beats
With tunes. Some moments that were beautiful.
One boy engaged actively for the first time in weeks
Said one of the workers.
Where have I heard that before. Music the gateway.
Meanwhile Kathryn sat outside
Teaching English to young men from
Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran.
Conversations with a smile that start to connect
People with possibility.
What is that possibility?
As I drove in and out of the site today
I learnt from Claire and Joe.
Stories of the camp here and in Dunkirk
Distribution, support, escape, distraction.
And how the charities operate
It is quiet
Just bird calls around our camper van
Gentle dusk drawing down
Ginger tea comforts
The mind is not quiet
Assimilating a day of images and conversations
Slowly connecting conflicting concepts.
To make the most difference
Nine hundred pans and pots
A mountain of blankets
A staircase of tents
Boxes on boxes of tins.
A light sandy pitch for football
Scattered with empty tear gas canisters
Populated by a cast of hundreds
Playing, laughing at times, curious
Singing, looking for ways out, sad
Questioning, why are we here, smile.
It is Gods will.
The main road passes by cafes
Water taps, simple shops,
Stagnant grey water
Trying to make a sense of it.
As I do.
I am free to go where I want.
They are not.
To the south coast
Trays of tins, cooking oil, tea bags
Bags of socks, coats, boots
A wallet of cash for gas
Accordion, drums and a trumpet
People’s wishes and hopes
As we go to help
We will also witness
What people can’t see through the media
And bring back images
And changed selves
Carry on with our lives
In our northern seaside town