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Touching base-anything is possible

“Everything is burnt, only my phone and the clothes I am wearing are left”. Anything is possible.

The team this week was Naomi Press, Bobby Lloyd, Sarah Robinson and Amy Wilson. On Thursday morning we walked around the north of the camp to let people know we were still there and to witness for ourselves the aftermath of the terrible fires of a week earlier – the large Sudanese, Eritrean and Ethiopian areas now dotted with single skin tents replacing the shelters.

There was miserable drizzle on both days and on Thursday it was also so windy that the psychosocial tent needed to be secured tightly to cut out the draft. The atmosphere felt tense, subdued with people slowly drifting into the space, us gently picking up on conversations.

A young Sudanese man who has been in the camp for five weeks came into the space for the first time, holding two notebooks filled with drawings of animals. Asking for a large sheet of paper he spent the afternoon drawing two deer in a colourful landscape. Before leaving he asked for another large sheet and pens to take away with him overnight.

On Friday we placed our second large Map of North Africa, the Middle East and Europe across two tables, grouping on it plasticine figures and animals made by residents over the past few weeks. This brought the space into a shape that allowed for people to both come together, finding their position at the table. People could come and go and not lose their place, and they could share the table across ethnic groups. This is in the context of many feeling that their belongings and shelters or tents are now more at risk and they were therefore feeling vulnerable and exposed.

The Sudanese man from Thursday returned with a second large drawing which he was pleased with, having worked it on it for much of the night. He spent the afternoon using paint for the very first time on a third image, standing as if at the head of the table, settling into himself in the space and offering up something alive and hopeful. He was pleased to photograph his work himself and to present it here.

People could contribute to the table without having to do anything active; the objects on the map could connect people with a part of themselves or their country or culture through the objects and conversations that took place. One man spoke of the camels reminding him of a more peaceful time in Afghanistan when people were nomadic and moved across the land with the seasons. Others went to other imagined places off the map – a Sudanese farmer made a kangaroo for the table.

Anything is possible.

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