I’m deep in the midst of what I call my camp comedown.
Back from the Calais Jungle again and I’m always very emotional. Too many people that I know there have just been there too long now. 6 months is enough to break anyone’s spirit, especially as over the course of that time, the camp has got increasingly bigger, the weather increasingly colder and the opportunity to leave, increasingly more difficult. The hope is dwindling.
I hardly recognized a good friend as he came to wish us a happy new year. A combination of his weight loss and the big scarf he had wrapped around entire head meant it took me a few seconds to recognize his kind eyes.
He had toothache, he told me. Severe toothache. I remembered back to about 4 months ago when I had woken up in the camp and shared some breakfast with him and a few other friends. We ate donated croissants and pastries but he refused any, telling me then he had toothache. I made sure he had painkillers at the time and we talked about him going to the Medicines du Monde tent to get it sorted out.
For four months he hadn’t mentioned it to me until I asked him yesterday. He told me he had tried everything, gone everywhere to try and get this rotten wisdom tooth pulled out, to no avail, and four months down the line the pain was so severe he could barely eat or sleep.
We went on a mission to every caravan, clinic, person we could think of who might be able to help. No luck apart from sourcing some clove oil to numb the area. If anyone is / knows a dentist who would be free to come to Calais for the day, please let me know!
We brought our food packages to the warehouse, and also distributed some in the Sudanese area of the camp. Jess’s mum has been furiously knitting the most amazing snoods which we also gave out to huuuuge appreciation. Everyone put them on immediately!
After dropping off the rest of the tablets to the library as part of our plan to make the wifi there accessible to everyone, even those without their own smart phone or device, we had some free time to play some music. Nils and Dervla got the guitar out and we laughed a lot about the songs that were requested…everyone loves a bit of Craig David apparently. And of course you cant go wrong with a bit of Bob Marley or Michael Jackson! Hopefully at least a few people were able to temporarily forget about the cold / the time / their situation as Nils and Derv played.
Even though we shared laughter and happiness with our friends in the camp, it is so hard to leave feeling positive. The reality of the situation is that these people shouldn’t be here. We shouldn’t have to make emergency food deliveries, or snoods to keep people warm in the bitter winter. Our friend should be able to see the dentist he so badly needs, to be able to eat and sleep without pain. But while they are still here, so will we be. Doing everything we can to make the situation just a little bit better.