I don’t know if my brain has died after the jungle or my ability to speak English has just completely stopped because I have been trying to write this for over a month. I thought it would of been easy to do but that has been far from the truth. I have maybe wrote it one hundred different times, one hundred different ways and then deleted it every single time. The problem is I don’t know how I can accurately describe my time there or how close me and my friends, had become. Really my words cannot fairly describe all the things I have seen, the friendships I made or the trust I was given. I have searched for the words, the days and the different moments to tell but my words are not strong enough to describe how strongly I actually felt. There is too much to write about but I never went there to write.
Even though it was only four months, it felt more like a lifetime. I went there knowing basically nothing about the ‘Jungle’, just knowing I wanted to help. I didn’t know the extent of the refugee crisis or most of the problems facing the people of Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Sudan, Syria or Pakistan. I didn’t know I would invest so much of my time and money there or how much it would end up changing and taking over my life. That I would finally leave with such close friendships and unimaginably saddened by how little more I could do to help. Even though it was hard being there, it was so much harder trying to leave.
The last few weeks of the jungle were the worst. It was an anxious and tense wait for the eviction because no date had been confirmed. Everyone just hoping it was a lie or some miracle would come. The worry, the stress and the despair over powered everyone. Everything had become more dangerous and hostile; everyone more desperate and hopeless. The days went by but no miracle came; only Monday 24th, the final day came. After that everything was cleared or burnt to the ground. Leaving nothing behind; no more tents, no shelters, no caravans, no distribution, no ashram, no schools, no nightclubs, no shops and no residents.
As crazy as it was, it was still a special place. There was a lot of lies and evil, but also a lot of good and truth. I don’t miss any of the violence, the tear gassing, the racism, the threats, the lies, the dehumanisation, the police, the malicious fires or the fights. The politics of volunteering or even the inequality within the camp. I hated going away every night to sleep, while my friends would stay up ‘to try’. But there was so much I loved and miss. I will be forever thankful for all the people I got to meet, all the thanks I would receive and the invitations to drink tea. Being able to experience Ramadan and Eid, joining friends in their celebrations and coming together to eat. I miss talking to my friends while they would walk me home at night. I miss all the greetings, nights, food, jokes and handshakes that were shared there.
It wasn’t until the jungle that I heard of Eritrea, it went from a nation I had never heard of, to making the most beloved friends. They intrigued me so much, with their sweet and caring ways. How they lived such cruel and dangerous lives but remained so unchanged and strong. I didn’t understand their language and I still can’t even pronounce a word. But they treated me like their sister and I saw them as my brothers. I will never forget their trust or how much they took care of me and showed me their lives. I am so grateful that I was lucky enough to meet them and to see how amazing they are.
I don’t know what will happen in the long term now the jungle is done but I still have high hopes for my friends, that the best is yet to come. I am sorry for how they were treated, the politics and unlucky hand they were given. For all the money and time that was spent trying to segregate us or to dehumanise or humiliate them.
I wish you, my friends, all the best. Keep fighting for your rights. I will always support you and do my best. Shookran. Manana. Amesegënallô. Yekeniyeley. Merci. Thank you.
Collaborative Artist: Jim
Jim Adams is a multidisciplinary artist and musician based in Nottingham, U.K. Website: cargocollective.com/jimadamsstudio. Insta: jim.adams.art Contact: email@example.com
Notes from artist
‘The refugees described in Nicola’s entry ‘Jungle’ embody a people sustaining community amidst dislocation, with a universal instinct to prevail. The design for my print ‘Protection’ was created to symbolise how positive collaboration ultimately survives through distress and chaos.
The two groups of hands in ‘Protection’ serve each other – one set carefully nurturing an illuminating flame, the other providing cover from rain. These symbolic actions, inspired by those of the refugees of ‘Jungle’, are fundamental, hopeful and unconditional.’