My Week so far…

It’s getting colder as the winter draws in. Have you put your heating on yet? I’ve had to as well …

© Krumal Padhiar

Unfortunately the only way to keep warm, also means a lot of our shelters end up burning down … along with all our possessions.

© Caroline Gregory – Jungle Camp – Calais

I suppose when that happens to you, ambulances come along with the fire engines to put out the fires and to help you with your injuries? We have a bit of a different reaction to our needs here in the camp, volunteers have to carry screaming people with serious burns across dodgy terrain in the middle of the night because the police are blocking ambulances. The noises and screams of my neighbours haunt me, even in my waking state.

I know you may think we are silly to risk our live’s like this but, I would have said the same when I was warm and safe at home in my house. But these days we have to choose between freezing to death or risking death by fire as we try and keep our children as warm as we can. There have been many child born in the Jungle since I arrived. I fear for their futures, their hopes and their lives. This is no place for children… what can I do?

‘My wife just gave birth to our child in the jungle, she’s two weeks old”, he smiles

© Krumal Padhiar

I bet it’s great to come home at the end of your work day and cook something nice to eat or perhaps you don’t fancy cooking today – get a takeaway instead? We have a few kitchens that help us with our ONE meal a day. The wonderful One Spirit Ashram Kitchen in the Calais Jungle helps us. We have to wait patiently in the rain, wind and cold to queue up for our one serving a day – that is our takeaway – everyday.


Unfortunately they only have enough funds to feed us a few times a day. But we are grateful. The hunger pains in my stomach are terrible some days.  I can cope, but watching my children cry from being so hungry freezes me with terror as I have no idea how long they can go on like this in the cold as the winter takes hold.

© Krumal Padhiar

The thing I loved most when I was at home, was to have a long soak in the bath. Especially at the end of the working day. I bet you like that too? Washing away all the tension and stress.

“Garbage is rotting and spreading like a plague, though we stand in pride, drink and wash ourselves under these cold taps even when it is not clean for consumption”

© Krumal Padhiar

It’s slightly different now … we have a few taps in the Jungle. Although a  recent environmental health assessment carried out by the University of Birmingham – Arshad Isakjee, Surindar Dhesi, Thom Davies recorded …

“The piped water from the tap nearest to the Jules Ferry Centre had E coli and Coliform bacteria present above safe standards, based on European Commission Regulation (EC) 2073/2005 on microbiological criteria for foodstuff. These bacteria are indicative of faecal contamination”.

I know it’s been really windy too, have you managed to wrap up warm? It’s a little tricky to keep our shelters on the ground, or indeed out of the water…


above and this image © Chloe Le Fay and Rae

Life in the jungle is hard, I won’t lie. It is an incredible challenge every day, feeling like I am somehow not human anymore. That somehow I have become invisible to the world. The volunteers and aid agencies help us meet our very, very basic needs, where they can. But there are many of us, we are still here and have no other way to provide for ourselves the way we did at home. I had my own business there, it was good. Life was good before the war, a war that we did not choose.

I ran from home, leaving all my possessions and my comforts behind, fleeing from a war that is not mine. So that I could be safe, so that I could keep my family safe and give them hope for a better future. But now we have become people’s fear. The media tell them so. Tell’s them that my children and I are bad, but we are just human like you. We are afraid too. Afraid of what will be, when this nightmare will end and we can be safe again.

I remember when I first came to the camp in Calais, I was so traumatised from the journey I was frightened to enter the camp with my children. I thought that would pass and we would eventually find a safe home. I think when you have a time when you cannot cope you see the Dr and maybe a therapist too, no? It helps to be able to talk or find a way to process your emotions, I am told art helps …


Excepts and images with thanks to
Caroline Gregory
Krunal Padhiar
Chloe La Fay and Rae

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