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31.01-02.02.24, Northern France

Yesterday, glimpses of sun shone amidst the cold harsh winds cutting the desolate landscape on Dunkirk’s edge where we worked alongside the @medecinsdumonde team. Offering a different kind of space, our large map was placed on the ground infront of the psychosocial activities van as a focal point for those waiting to see the doctor, and as a step to inside the van for those wanting some small respite from the harshness of outside.

Inside at the table, much joy came with our new addition of a small flatbed truck. We noticed that if we can be playful others join the joy; the relational element brings people in. Soon the small bricks were piled as high as could be on the back of the truck, with people making suggested patterns for loading that would be more ergonomic and enable the carriage of more bricks or blocks of wood.

A man also sat with us retelling his first attempt to cross to the UK, in a boat for 10 hours with one leg in cold seawater. The boat ended up returning to the French shore as those on the boat collectively lost a sense of where they were. At his 2nd attempt, the boat was too full & he was left by himself on a deserted beach, having to walk miles to the nearest town.

The small truck came out again today in Calais at The Wash @collectiveaidorg with young men building structures & the truck used to deliver bricks in amongst conversation and calm while waiting for their washing.

Accompanied by translated poems generously gifted us by @poetry_translation a poet sat with us and wrote out his own memorised odes to his mother, to a former love interest.., tales of love, loss and heartbreak. Swapping his pen for a pencil he said, “the ink is flowing too fast, I have not written for a few years”. He then recited out loud the poems that he had just written down, bringing others at the table in.

Another man, an oil engineer from Sudan, asked about the UK. “How is Canterbury?” he asked and we wondered if that city had particular import for him, such as friends or family there. “No”, he replied, “I just like the sound of the name.”

Words by Bobby Lloyd and Miriam Usiskin.

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