With many of the residents in the camp marking Ramadan, people are quiet, up later in the day and moving gently. On both days the art therapy groups reflected this. The Médecins du Monde space opens later in the day due to Ramadan however in the time that the groups ran, dialogues seemed intensified. Perhaps also due to the residents being able to find a space for more one-to-one work to take place.
A number of joined up pieces of work are taking place between Art Refuge UK, MdM, MSF, Tavistock, Hummingbird, Balous Youth Service – acknowledging the ongoing importance and value in knowing the practical, medical and psychological needs of the residents, and the services available to support these needs.
Searching for definitions and answers seemed to become a recurring theme across the two days, commencing with a man sharing a keenness for talking to as many people as possible in order to find ‘the answer’: what is the difference between jealousy and envy?; what is the difference between a mishap and a disaster? Although the answer he searched for seemed to be focused on his anxieties around his own mental health.
The maps were used on both days as a useful way to bring people together and contain weary bodies and minds. The map on the table in particular offered the group a shared time and space, one regular group member drawing on their nighttime routine of coming together to share their evening meal during Ramadan. He shared images from his phone and the team thought of the correlation with the collection of plasticine objects taking their place at the table in front of them. A sense of community and connectedness.
Another young man from Sudan who joins us regularly, sat quietly beside us, creating a typical open backed truck and guitar with plasticine. Adding them defiantly to Sudan, alongside objects placed nearby from past groups. The old and the new coming together. Soon a vivid and varied mix of people, modes of travel, animals and imaginative creatures, familiar or obscure objects were positioned side by side.
Handling, kneading, the putting together of pieces of plasticine, seemed to help calm restless thoughts and support people to feel grounded.
The map on the wall also drew people in and individuals stood looking at it, travelling across it with eyes, bodies, traces of a finger, for long periods of time. As if a piece of artwork on the wall, it held an aesthetic quality which encouraged a range of memories, personal stories, hopes and fears to unfold.
One young man was given an A3 print out to take back to his shelter.
Despite interspersed periods of heavy rain also keeping people inside, the camp remained industrious; determined; busy rebuilding. Like the new green hedgerows and plants shooting up through sand, waste and discarded objects; showing its resilience regardless of obstacles faced. We saw a number of individuals and services out to support residents: a local French lady handing out generous bundles of fresh bread, fruit and vegetables as she has been on a weekly basis for months now; clothing and blankets distributed daily to replace others drenched in fragile tents; a lady dropping off supplies for Jungle Books.