Realigning boundaries-pressure and balance

The reshaping of boundaries and borders across the camp continues with: another shift in the physical landscape (the green now coming fast through the earth across the wasteland); the ongoing shift in population with people coming and going; the new organic demarcations people are building around their temporary homes (twigs arranged in trellises, coloured fabrics, mattress springs) in contrast to the ever increasing state-built fences around the camp, able to be seen through but intended to stop people’s movement and growth.

Ramadan has started and most people are fasting while some are not; people are getting up later to fit in with the necessary change in mealtimes and the new shape of the day; the camp authorities and our work needs to respond to this shift in the pattern of daily life, in line with residents’ needs.

The map was laid out once again on the large table, and plasticine figures placed onto its surface. There was a tangible sense of trust that we as a team of people that returns each week, are not going to use or misuse information or material that is shared with us – applying to both regular participants and people entering the space for the first time.

Photographs from home were shared in the tent by several people on their phones – images of food prepared by a mother, or of beautiful landscapes and cultural objects. A young Bedoon from Kuwait showed us images of a large carpeted tent space he shared with his family at home, in contrast to the tiny tent he now lives in, in the camp, telling us through images how much he has lost in terms of community and a sense of belonging. He explained how he is trying to keep fit so as to have the physical strength to hold onto a lorry’s axel; his plan is to join a Bedoon community in London or Manchester and to cook the food there, learnt from his family.

It’s not for us to corrode people’s identities or to assume we have any right over these, or to make assumptions. By entering into adult conversations about challenging issues that people brought to the table, their own assumptions about us could also be explored.

The kites have now been taken ownership of by the Afghani men; us acting as assistants, holding the tape, following instructions. One of our regular attendees and kite-flyers came into the tent to make a new kite, was able to focus and concentrate, using the tools, leading the design, and confidently taking it outside the tent to fly it. “I’m not a bambino now – I’m fifteen and therefore I too am fasting.” He took the kite away with him at the end of the day so he could fly it above the camp over the weekend.

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