Flying kites and polaroids

The two days were intense and at times exhilarating, with hot sun and deep blue skies bringing people outside. The days were framed by kite-making. One young teenager – usually unable to focus and often isolated – found emotional grounding in the work and connections with people, through holding the line of the kite as it soared high above the wasteland, backwards and forwards between the two spaces.

Around 80 people worked with us over the two days. There were a number of new arrivals including men who’d made the journey to Calais over the past two weeks. There were many people expressing to us their difficult feelings, their yearning to reconnect with family, to bring people together, to locate loved ones, to reunite, to be held.

There was also a pattern of men wanting to have philosophical, intelligent, robust conversations with equals – the ghost in Macbeth resonating with the loop that so many people feel trapped in.

A group of Sudanese men – one who had walked from Greece to Calais – came both days from the camp-based hospital, sitting in support of one another, making images and new connections.

The sense of ‘having my story, my photo, taken from me’ is an issue for many residents we meet each week, and seems to become more of a burden and issue of trust as the weeks advance. People are feeling exposed and raw – and are telling us about this, while at the same time engaging in the two spaces which hold a different quality.

This week we handed over a Polaroid camera for individuals to take their own photograph which brought excitement and even wonder. The image, often of friends and our team, had to be placed in ‘dark room’ pockets and then there was the wait for the photograph to be exposed. We acknowledged the paradox in a process that mirrors what often happens in the camp – but in this case supported ownership of individual story telling.

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