Writing helps me immensely – its my form of therapy. These are my thoughts, words, experiences and feelings of what happened in the Jungle. I have taken the decision not to give names, which might make things a bit confusing at times, because I do not have permission. Even the names of my travelling friends are missing. I cannot speak for how anyone else perceives their experiences. I can only speak for me. While writing this, I’ve experienced every emotion possible. I own what I’ve written here. I take responsibility.
There are no photographs. I have shared a few photos on my Facebook account but I won’t be sharing any here on the basis that somehow it feels like you are a tourist when you take photos. I didn’t take that many and I’d feel almost disrespectful by sharing the ones I do have. The photos that I haven’t shared are private and personal. If you want to see the Jungle in its glory, by all means Google Images has many. I don’t mean that to sound bad – images are important but I don’t feel my photos will add anything which hasn’t been shared already many times.
First a bit about how I got here. I’m a mum of two grown up daughters. I’ve spent the last 20 years involved in animal rights campaigning. I am adopted mum to six rescued greyhounds and three rescued hens. I’ve worked in housing/homelessness for many years and miraculously finished an MSc in Housing in June. I’m married to the love of my life (after my hounds of course) and live in Haddington, East Lothian. I’ve previously been to Tanzania, Ghana and Sri Lanka to work with people with different charities. I’ve read a lot about conflict. I’ve read more books and visited more WW2 war sites than I can name.
I tell people that I prefer dogs to humans but truth be told, I like people too as long as they’re not bigoted, arrogant, superior or treat other people/animals poorly. I try not to notice injustice in the media. This is on the basis that I get involved – too involved people say. I knew about the refugee crisis. I didn’t want to pay attention because I knew what would happen. Then those scenes. Unlike anyone else, it wasn’t the little boy that bothered me – of course it did. But it was the scenes at the railway station in Budapest that shocked me to the core.
I started pestering people about the situation by email and had a plan to set up a collection point for clothing and items in my house. Given the generosity of the people of East Lothian, I’m more than relieved now that our MP stepped in and opened his office. We spent some time helping there and every spare minute reading and emailing and trying to work out what to do. I was frustrated, upset and felt the need to do more. I somehow found myself agreeing to go on a fact-finding mission to the camp they call ‘The Jungle’ in Calais with five people that I didn’t know. The reason for our trip was to take some items that were donated, make contacts with people on the ground and work out how we can help.
We left the next day. There were two vans with three people in each that headed off. One van and its passengers were staying two nights, we weren’t sure how long we would be staying.