Home in the Calais Jungle

How do you make a home from nothing? Home-making in the Calais Jungle:

The 9000 residents in the Calais Jungle have naturally formed communities by nationality; Sudanese, Afghanis, Kurds, Syrians, Ertireans, Iraqis, Iranians and more.

It’s interesting and beautiful to see how these groups self-organise their areas in which to live so differently. In other words, how they each create a ‘home’ so differently.

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The Afghani’s are businessmen. They either run the restaurants or sit in them. They build for commerce and sleep in their shops. They are entrepreneurial and proactive despite the circumstances…inspirational.

The Sudanese are very different. I don’t know of one Sudanese shop. They build little gated communities around a communal kitchen where they spend most of their time and they have the comfiest looking shelters which they put real thought and love into. I’ve seen pictures hung on their walls, doormats outside their front doors and empty water bottles cut in half, holding picked wild flowers. As you walk through the Sudanese area you are beckoned in for coffee (cooked with ginger and a LOT of sugar), by EVERYONE. They are hospitable and welcoming and very homely.

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‘Little Syria’ has a similar vibe. There are not many Syrians in the camp, but those who are there live together in shelters which face inwards to form a courtyard in the middle. A washing line cuts diagonally from roof to roof, and below, plastic chairs form a circle around a central table, always piled with plates, tobacco and coffee cups.

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Now the coffee…let’s talk about the coffee. If Sudanese ginger coffee sounds ingenious, the Syrians have found a way to make cappuccino, by attaching a whisk to a drill!!!! Bloody brilliant.

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The recent raids of the shops and businesses in the Calais Jungle have shaken everybody up. Dismantling of the shops is the first step in dismantling the rest of the camp. After the trauma of the first huge eviction of the homes of over 5,000 people in March, anxieties vibrate through the Jungle.

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This time, there will be no other part of the camp to squeeze into. This could be it, leaving 9000 people homeless all over again.

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