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The context is as bleak as ever on the France-UK border in northern France, with over 1,800 displaced people in the Calais area. Our robust French partners continue to provide incredible support in a whole range of ways, including highlighting the human rights and social injustices at the border. The Channel winds continue to blow people’s plans away, with Storm Eunice hitting with full force and state run emergency night shelters being urgently prepared as we left on Friday evening.

Over the last few days in Calais, both at The Community Table in the Secours Catholique day centre and with the Médecins du Monde mobile clinic, a small red object captured many people’s imagination. This was in the form of an old red View Master, the trademark name of a line of special-format stereoscopes and corresponding reels (thin cardboard disks containing seven 3D pairs of small transparent color photographs).

A new tool alongside our maps, plasticine, typewriters and miniature bricks, this old View Master allowed for time travel to a miniature world held in a capsule that someone could have control over. For some the immersive experience evoked warm childhood memories while for others there was a sense of going somewhere new. A boy from Sudan was transfixed by fjords in Norway and another from Liberia delighted in the mountains of Switzerland.

Miriam Usiskin and Bobby Lloyd

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