Diaries from the Jungle

Coming back from « the Jungle ». How could I describe what I saw? How to describe the hardship, the tents as homes, the playing football together où le temps est suspendu yet with a feeling of "that’s all we can do", the restaurant and people smoking shisha, the languages and the people and the coexistence, the insanely dirty toilets, the water supplies, the smiles, the both heaviness and lightness of the air, the people asking for my help in building this or that, finding this or that, asking me to use my passport to cross the border with me by car, the invitations for tea, the kilometers walked, the looks from the policemen walking through in their robots attire, the people asking me whether I think they should stay or go, the joy to meet my friends again and the trust they put in me after all this time of silence, the sorting pants time at the distribution point in a small wooden shelter, the helpers, people being there because they care, a beautiful voice singing over a music piece of guitar, the library, British volunteers saying goodbye to their new friends after staying there for a week or a month, my troubled feelings, my mixed emotions, I wondering about this world where some people are left to live like animals while others decide for the lives of the former. There is so much to be done here. I saw images of townships in South Africa, Jamaica, and other places drawn in our collective Western-based imaginary as far-off, lointain, other, and peripheral. “Other” in opposition to an “us” where this would never be. I never thought this would be. I never thought to see such images in my country, in my home, the place that, I’ve heard since I’m a child, is “civilized” and “rich.” I don’t even want to comment on this. What can I say? Who am I to say? What has happened in this world for people to be treated in this way in a land that we praise for its avant-garde position as defender of human rights? There is a wall in the minds. It is, like every frontier, also a passage. A way through. A place of resistance. Of the living. I do not know what war is. It is abstract and foreign and far-off. But what should I call this? On construit un bidonville d’Etat, institutionnalisé. Un espace off, périphérique, sous-considéré, où tout est un combat, où l’on assure la “sécurité” en faisant patrouiller la police et où l’on agrandit les murs dans les têtes, on crée un climat de tension, une zone de non-droit sous contrôle, un emprisonnement forcé. C’est le Tiers Monde, celui qui ne compte pas.

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