I’ve have another amazing time in the jungle this weekend.
We went with a little production team and second camera man which was new to us, but work on the film is stepping up a gear! It was really great to have a bit of structure to our time as we are generally very good at getting completely lost in incredible stories and conversations and the hours just slip away unnoticed.
We started the day in the warehouse, where things are running smoothly and the volunteers are a bloody dream come true. Morale is high despite the lack on electricity (no heating, light or even toilets!) If anyone knows a lovely electrician who fancies spending a couple of days sorting out some lights so the team can work into the winter evenings, that would be amazing!
Back in the camp we met Mohamed, the most incredible Sudanese poet. He made us tea and we sat and listened as he read out the most beautiful, emotional words. He had written both in English and Arabic and told us just this freedom of expression is a crime in his country.
One of his poems drew a parallel between the bodies of his two friends, floating dead in the sea, the most horrible thing he told us he had ever seen, and the movement of a dolphin peacefully passing through the waves.
I cried as he read. He read the words so gently and carefully. He went on to tell us he had lost everything he had in the Mediterranean Sea…smugglers had thrown everyone’s bags overboard, full of their money, their phones and any other life’s possessions. We offered to lend him a phone so he could contact his family for the first time in months but he refused. ‘I can’t call them until I make it to England’ he explained. ‘If I call now I can’t lie to them, but I can’t tell them about the life I am living here in the jungle, like an animal either. They would be so worried.’ He’s not the first person who has explained to me the shame of leaving their country, their beautiful homes, great jobs, cars, families behind, to find themselves here. ‘I have lost hope.’ Hearing those words from him broke my heart.
Mohamed had been introduced to us by an incredible artist, Oliver, who we also shared our day with. Painting intricate tribal designs on people’s hands, he aims to represent the one tribe we are all belong to. ‘We are all united as beings on this planet, moving beyond ethnicity or gender,’ he explained.
Around lunch time we bumped into another good friend from the camp, a little Eritrean boy who tells me a different age every time, but I would guess he is about 8. His face was swollen, and he explained to me, in beautiful English, that a wasp had stung him whilst he was sleeping. He had woken from it tickling his cheek, brushed at it, then had an allergic reaction to the sting. As we walked Nils noticed a wasp in my hair and Nahom ran away in total panic.
He spent the afternoon with us, enjoying playing with our camera and actually took some pretty awesome pictures! (I’ll post them later!) He was also very very keen for us to buy him some chicken, so of course, we did! We sat down in a little Afghan restaurant and watched as the guys prepared the most incredible lunch for us in no time. The spices, the flavours, I don’t understand how they do it.
Little Nahom ate like a trooper, continuing to make us all laugh. He chilled with the Afghans in their shop for a bit, then ran off to attempt to ride this huge bike outside the tent we were sitting in. He couldn’t get his balance so a Sudanese guy ran with him, holding his seat, over and over again until he managed a few wobbly metres by himself. Again, this was just another demonstration to me that wherever we’re from, whatever situation we find ourselves in, we are all part of one big family, underneath it all, we are all the same.
Photos by Finlay O’Hara