CALAIS, France — The Jungle is a makeshift campsite for refugees resting on the shore of France’s Calais where an estimated 3,000 people migrated from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Northern Africa, Iraq, Sudan and Ethiopia.
Nonprofits and individuals across France and the United Kingdom have donated money and supplies to assisting refugees who lack many necessities, but also lack many educational luxuries, such as books and poetry.
The Jungle is transforming into a settlement that relies on philanthropy. British teacher Mary Jones, formerly from Wales, began “Jungle Books” or “Livres de la jungle.” This library holds children’s books, fiction novels and dictionaries that are handed to refugees.
The library has accumulated 200 titles with, hopefully, more to come. Popular contemporary works include “Gone Girl” and “The Lord of the Rings,” as well as works by Tom Wolfe and John Grisham. Mary Jones requests particular language-appropriate donations such as Pashto-French dictionaries, Pashto-English dictionaries, Eritrean dictionaries and books in other languages.
The library is also supporting some of their schools for refugees. One such school was created by Zimako Jones. He fled Nigeria and went on to construct the school using branches and wood panels. Able to speak fluent French, Zimako Jones does not plan to leave France. He hopes to help grow the community that formed in Calais.
Volunteers have been equipping refugees with the native language, especially in light of recent events. In late July, up to nine people were killed while attempting to cross the channel tunnel. Now, it seems keeping the refugees grounded in France may be the best option for the time being.
“Many people here are well-educated,” Mary Jones said. “They want to get on and they want books that will help them read and write English, apply for jobs, fill-in forms.” Practicing with today’s books and dictionaries, admittance for asylum in France may be more likely.
Conditions have fixed refugees in a state poverty. They have no running water, no childcare, little access to electricity and minimal amounts of food.
The French government now provides washing stations to allow residents to wash clothes and take showers, and a day center giving the Jungle a phone-charging station and free one-a-day meals.
Roughly 2,200 meals are provided daily. In an attempt to further enhance quality of life, Calais leaders created an additional center for 120 women and children that was filled instantly. With women and children migrating more frequently to The Jungle, violence has become an issue.
Groups of the U.K. offer their assistance as Mary Jones had done. Jasmine O’Hara is one of seven members of the Worldwide Tribe in Calais responding to the crisis.
The slogan adopted by this charity is “We are all the same,” according to O’Hara, “The world is our home and we believe it is imperative to have a global mindset and conscience.”
An additional documentary is being funded via a JustGiving page, its proceeds go towards aiding refugees. Initially, the raised amount of $20,000 inspired the creation of the fundraising page, but soon after the page was created the total exceeded $46,000.
Diane and Bob Fotheringham from Glasgow took initiative to fundraise for the Jungle with a goal of $500. They managed to reach $3,000, well above their expectations. JustGiving statistics reported that 2,500 donations originated from 32 different countries, thus an example of a global effort to aid refugees.
But countless other charities are aiding refugees and helping to enhance their quality of life as well. Doctors of the World supplies tents, sleeping bags, first-aid supplies and hygiene products. Its executive director, Leigh Daynes, reminds activists, donors and volunteers about the effects of aid.
“By reaching out and speaking to like-minded people and groups, voices can be made louder and more people helped.”
– Katie Groe