As the end of the year draws closer, I’ve been in my usual reflection mode, looking back at what a life-changing year 2015 has been…
Every day my heart breaks for the world, aches for those fleeing all that horrible shit. I’m constantly wishing for the warmest winter ever (the camp is so cold), for the wifi to be up and running so people can talk to their families this Christmas, for the world to change and everyone to be able to just go home, safely and life to be back to normal.
Ideally we’d be able to fix the whole world, but together, as a movement of people, we have actually got one teeny step closer to that pretty crazy goal!
We thought we would give you a little overview of our main projects we have been working on over the last few months:
Thanks to you guys we have been able install WiFi in the Jungle in Calais, providing a vital connection for refugees to be able to talk to their families and friends, to access information about their asylum claims and future options, and to have a tool for learning and education. The boys have just got back from nearly a week of constant lifting, climbing, building, head-scratching and problem solving to get to a point where thousands of people are connected.
This was a direct response to what people asked us for. Although some may not see WiFi as a priority, in 2011 the United Nations declared internet as a basic human right. We are now truly understanding the benefits, for refugees even MORE so than your average European (and we know how important it is for us!).
We have also co-funded the build of a custom fire truck, created by the amazing Arcadia team, now in it’s container home, in the Jungle, full of water and ready to go.
Another response to the devastation of the multiple recent fires are the solar powered lights we have provided to the camp to prevent the use of dangerous candles, tackling the issue at the root cause.
Our sisters at CalAid continue to store, transport and distribute physical donations of food, clothing, shoes, tents and sleeping bags to the camp in Calais, Lesvos and beyond, ensuring people have the basics they need to make it through the winter months. Together, we have also donated to our amazing friends at L’Auberge and Help Refugees for their building project, to get all the women and children in the camp into shelters for the winter.
This project includes a huge push of support to our Sudanese brothers in an area of the camp that has recently become less accessible. Not only will we be directing a lot more aid and food into this part of the camp, but also have an exciting plan for this area we will tell you about when it’s a little more concrete!
We have received so much support from you amazing lot that we were able to expand our work to Lesvos, back when the Island was in an absolutely critical state. We have been able to support the structural and organisational development of Pikpa camp for vulnerable refugees as well as delivering thousands of emergency blankets to those arriving on the Island, distributing food at Moria camp as well as facilitating the placement of over a dozen doctors at Moria camp. Dan and Mark saw in many boats to the Island, supprting 60-70 people per boat and provided 4-way radios to the teams on the ground, enabling them to effectively co-ordinate and review their response to incoming boats.
We have spent a lot of time in the Jungle over the last 5 months, sleeping there, eating there, laughing and crying there, forming life-long friendships with the amazing, heroic people we have met. We have used this time to intimately and sensitively document the stories and lives of our new friends through a short film. We aim to use this to raise awareness, and encourage others to consider ‘Who are the humans behind the headlines?’. Our film is nearly finished and will be released very soon!
January looks to be a busy month as we will be installing an 11m dome donated by the amazing Pacific Domes in the New Year. This will act as a safe place for vulnerable women and children who arrive on the Island, and are not well enough to go directly to Moria or continue their journey. Dan will be stationed in Lesvos from January where he will be working to maximise volunteer potential and continue to improve conditions. We are also donating a quad bike to be used on the beaches in Lesvos, complete with a winch to be able to pull boats safely to shore.
*Further Plans for 2016*
We plan to develop our WiFi system in Calais to provide fast, blanket fibre coverage for the whole Jungle. Once nailed, we want to roll-out this system in Lesvos, and in other key locations along the commonly travelled routes taken by refugees.
We are also looking for reactive, responsive projects that will improve conditions and support those living in the Jungle in Calais. If you have a project that you think we may be interested in supporting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have a few other seriously exciting things in the pipeline that we have to keep a little bit quiet until they materialize, but you’ll be hearing it here!
These are not just our achievements, they are all of our achievements. This is a crazy grassroots movement of people who care and that is a bloody amazing thing to be a part of. Times are changing and it’s so exciting! Thank you so much for all being bloody AWESOME!!!