I’m back home again from the Calais Jungle, having left the boys there to continue adding wifi hotspots across the camp now we have a super fast connection coming in (YAY).
We had a really productive trip. We met with the amazing team who have just bought a school bus which they plan to turn into a mobile educational centre for the camp, running all sorts of programmes and projects from within the confines of the awesome yellow double decker.
Next we made our way to the brand new, big, orange container in the Afghan area which is now home to the AWESOME custom built fire truck we helped fund with Arcardia (see the picture!) This amazing beast of a vehicle is full of water and ready to go (siren and all), with several members of the camp having been trained as ‘fire fighters,’ ready, in the event of another candle, stove or gas canister starting a fire. Hopefully this will minimise the devastation of these blazes in the densely populated, windy camp, where fire spreads fast. In the past it has taken up to 45 minutes for the fire brigade to arrive on site, and even longer for them to take action, resulting in huge damage and increasing frustration for the inhabitants of the camp.
Next we went to check out the Good Chance Theatre Dome in the camp again, getting to know the structure and understanding how it was built, ready to build our very own dome in Pikpa Camp in Lesvos, providing a shelter for vulnerable women and children…we’re now all good to go for January which is pretty exciting!
Finally Fin and I filmed some final shots of a few friends, needed to finalise the documentary which is coming to you guys very soon. The aim is still to answer those questions you have about life in the camp, the people there, who they are, where they have come from, what has happened to them and where they want to go.
All the while, Nils and Rich were being battered by the wind from all directions, on top of the miracle street trailer, trying many different options to get a super fast signal into the camp, ready to install hotspots around the whole Jungle. Finally, late afternoon, they had a breakthrough: a consistent connection of 60mb per second coming into the camp (faster than in my house!!!) We were over the moon, as were the masses of people soon crowded around the trailer. Last week, when signal was still slow, we had over 1000 unique users of the WiFi in the first few hours, and many people were sharing phones and devices meaning that it was actually used by many more. We cant even imagine how this will grow now the connection is so fast!
Tonight maybe people will be able to Skype their families, see their faces, hear their voices, for the first time in months. Maybe someone who was feeling ultimately lonely, defeated, despondent, will rekindle a spark of hope when able to research the options for their asylum process, their future. Maybe some people will be able to get into a tent together and take their minds off the cold, the hunger, the desperate situation, even just for a couple of hours, by watching a film, or listening to some music, or playing a game.
If any of you want to support people contacting their families over the Christmas period, we need funding for sim cards and data. You can donate here.
If any of you work for or know any companies who may like to sponsor this project, Calais is the first of many camps we hope to connect. Please contact Jess@theworldwidetribe.com
Photos by Finlay O’Hara