Elysium fields

By: Padmini Gopal

It had been a few months since I last came to the jungle – a jungle that was unfathomable to the senses, a jungle that was almost unnavigable, and a jungle that was mired (not just by rain and mud) with tension and desperation. Returning to the jungle and driving under the same bridge I had traversed through before, I expected myself to be familiar with it, recognising its landmarks I had once imprinted in my head to ease navigation through this disorienting disorder. But the disfigured Banksy and a completely reshuffled camp with a flurry of large white “UN” tents  proved to me otherwise. Moreover, what crossed my mind was – would Zaroorat be able to  deliver aid to Calais’ residents given Calais’ evidently changing dynamic?

Kobo toolbox, an electronic application that we Zaroorat are currently using, has to a significant extent, helped address this issue by mapping our way through the camp while effectively delivering aid according to the needs of each of its residents. By utilising the “cloud” nature of this app, we were able to cut down the amount of time spent on packaging the orders made by the residents. This was in contrast to my first day at the Calais camp, when we took orders of the residents’ needs and packed them only when we reached the warehouse. However, with the first trial run of the app on the field, we were able to have the orders packed in the warehouse by other volunteers as soon as they were made in the field! With the packaging time decreasing, those that were in the field had more time to take additional orders.

Knowing that we were able to increasingly address refugee’s needs given the same amount of time was exhilarating; knowing that in some small way we were making it easier for refugees to live in the camp was also encouraging. It made it more comforting to pass by the yellow flower fields adjacent to the camp everyday – the same blossoming field of yellow flowers that replaced what once used to be the demolished south side of camp.  Mother nature’s way of remembering those that lost their livelihoods and rights –  this vivid field is a reminder for humans to acknowledge that we are all so similar, like every other yellow flower in the field, and to appreciate the immense beauty that emanates from realising such equality. And passing by this field is a daily reminder for us to fight for the refugees’ dignity, respect and livelihoods and to galvanise us to attain such a field of elysium.

For more on Zaroorat and how you can help it become a sustainable presence at the camp, click here


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