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SCARRED LANDSCAPES AND GENTLE INTERACTIONS

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

Dunkirk & Calais, June 28-29, 2023


The weather remains as changeable as ever in Northern France with sun on our first day and pouring rain on the second. Today the L'accueil de jour de Calais marked Eid by feeding over 300 people a robust hot meal of lamb and rice. In parallel, we were joined at The Community Table by members of Calais Food Collective for the gathering of drawings of essential cooking items and the large much needed water containers they deliver to the various living sites around Calais.


We were also joined by old and new friends who spent the afternoon drawing, typing, and in conversation. Discussions ranged from recounting of perilous journeys to humorous anecdotes, alongside balancing tricks with felt-tip pens.


Yesterday, we spent the day nearby Dunkirk alongside our partners Medecins du Monde (MdM) and their new psychosocial van. We were struck by how desolate and difficult a setting this is. The living site sits in a scarred landscape inbetween a busy road and railway line - the hiss and rattle of passing lorries and freight trains adding to the overall sense of desolation. The medical team worked sensitively and efficiently, attending to wounds caused by the brutal reality of living outside. We observed the acute need for services for the women, children and men temporarily living there.


In the van itself we discovered possibilities for connecting the outside with the inside, softening the harshness, using postcards with images of birds and landscapes, introducing the potential of other places and spaces. The view masters took people to mountains and zoos, adding some escape and even levity.


Returning to the UK this evening, we heard the significant news that the government’s cruel plan to send refugees to Rwanda has been deemed unlawful in the Court of Appeal on the grounds of safety.


Words by Miriam Usiskin, Johannes Maertens and Bobby Lloyd.


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