Written by Mike Beecham
(Mike has started to document, in words and pictures, his experiences of being in ‘The Jungle’. He is sharing these thoughts on Face Book but I felt that it would be helpful to share them here, in The House, also)
As some of you know, I recently spent a few days in ‘The Jungle’, in Calais. For those that don’t know, it’s a refugee camp that now houses over 6000 men, women and children who have, through one reason or another, found themselves stranded and ‘in limbo’ in this camp. Often sleeping in the the kind of tents you’d see left behind at music festivals, these lovely people are about to brave possibly their first winter ever. It’s cold, wet, muddy and miserable in the camp. There’s poor sanitation, overcrowding and constant tension with the local police… ‘Gendemerie’. In no way can I do justice to showing the pain and hardship the people feel within the camp, but I’m going to try and show something of what I experienced. There’s a couple of things I feel I need to say first (since there’ll be a few pictures over the next few days and weeks):
1) Where possible, I’ve tried not to photograph people’s faces. Due to EU law, the refugees MUST claim asylum in the first country they arrive in, and they simply do not want to stay where they are. I ask, but respect whether they want their faces captured or not. Where it’s unavoidable, I either darken or try to blur their faces out a little. Not ideal, but I want to be respectful to their wishes.
2) I’m in NO way making any kind of political statement. I don’t even really know what I feel about it all. I’m still numb about my time there. My photos are an effort to simply report what I see, and nothing more.
3) Most photos will be in black and white. As a deliberate means of telling their story, I can’t help but feel colour will mostly detract from the story, so those kind of photos will probably be rare. If added, it’s only to make a point, I guess.
So, forgive a different direction for a while, but, for Solomon and many others, their story needs to be told. I’m not a professional photographer, so don’t expect ‘Time Magazine’ quality photos. I just want to tell their story.