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Reclaiming the lens


This week Anna Kälin and Fawzia Afifi were the art therapists in the camp. On Thursday and Friday, they facilitated a men’s and unaccompanied minors’ group which was filled with creativity, innovation and growth in the midst of loss. The teenage boys were given a camera to use and capture moments in the camp. The rolls of film will be processed in a dark room in the UK and the photographs brought back next week. One of the boys, who consistently returns, created and played on a musical instrument which he said was an oud.

A young man drew his mobile phone with precision and exact measurements as this mobile phone, he said, represents for him a tool with which he would like to call David Cameron to tell him that he should let him and others in the camp go to the UK. He also said that the day’s high winds will help him in his journey.

Anna and Fawzia also facilitated an outreach children’s group in the afternoon. The children, mainly Kurdish, initially painted, producing multiple images. Moving on to collage, they especially enjoyed sticking coloured feathers onto paper. The difficulty in sharing the glue illustrated the very apparent fear that there is not enough to go around.

In the evening at Medecins du Monde’s office, Anna and Fawzia also offered a parallel space for a nine year-old Syrian boy and his uncle who had both witnessed the traumatic death of a family member close to the camp, both struggling to find meaning.

The day light is becoming shorter and the nights colder. Several of the men spoke in Arabic and English about their fear of ice and snow, the harshness of the weather bringing an additional unpredictable dimension to the camp. There are real fears about physically surviving there during the winter months.

Within this, the consistent space from a UK team coming back each week was named as invaluable. Art Refuge UK is currently struggling to pull together limited resources to be able to extend the work until Christmas. We welcome approaches from individuals and organisations who can help Art Refuge UK achieve a sustainable programme in Calais for as long as it is needed.

Any level of support for our small focused team goes a long way. Please consider making a donation and please share as widely as you can.


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