'Welcome to Our Jungle' is a participatory photography project based in the refugee camp known as the 'Jungle' in Calais, giving a much needed platform for the voices of those directly affected by the crisis.
Participatory photography involves empowering participants by putting the cameras into their hands and giving them the skills to tell their own stories.
Watch our video here.
WHY PARTICIPATORY PHOTOGRAPHY?
On becoming increasingly frustrated with the negative and unbalanced rhetoric broadcast in the mainstream media surrounding the refugee crisis, we visited the camp to volunteer back in September 2015 to scope out the prospect of running this project.
We were met by an overwhelming mistrust and frustration with photographers, handpainted signs everywhere saying "No Photos".
Who could blame them for feeling this way? As photographers were entering their space, their homes (no matter how temporary and make shift), taking their image without their permission, and misrepresenting them throughout the media, all over the world. The urgent need for the project became apparent at this point.
Where was the platform for these people's voices?
Why weren't we hearing their side of the story?
So, we set up the project with the explicit aim to empower those involved, and have been working with a group of men, women and children in the refugee camp known as the 'Jungle' ever since.
The project has given those involved a sense of hope and renewed identity. When everything else - from their homes to, at times, their dignity - has been systematically stripped away from them, it means the world to them to have a means of expressing themselves and to know that their voices are being heard.
"I hope people who see our photos will learn the truth about our situation and receive it positively and sympathetically. It's important that people know the whole story. There are many peaceful people here."
Mohammed, project participant.
We have worked with some incredible human beings who have produced an impressive and powerful body of work that we want to share with the world. Please see the website: http://www.welcometoourjungle.com
Now it’s time to get those voices heard far and wide, so need YOUR help to make that a reality!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The majority of those we've been working with have successfully made it to the UK or have now claimed asylum in France, so it is our aim to raise enough money to continue to run workshops with them in their new 'homes', to provide a unique insight into what life is life after the 'Jungle'.
Does it live up to their expectations?
How are they adjusting to life in a new culture?
How have their new communities welcomed them?
There is a lot of reporting on refugees and asylum seekers outside of the UK, but what is life life for them once they actually get here.
This project has been completely self funded up until this point, and has been run on a completely voluntary basis, but we cannot afford to continue without YOUR donations!
They would enable us to do this, by funding the travel costs and necessary photographic equipment for the participants to be able to continue their work. The cameras (and hopefully laptops as well, if we can raise enough) will be left with the participants after the workshops are completed, ensuring a sustainable legacy to the project.
After this phase of the project is complete, our next aim is to then showcase this juxtaposition of work created in the UK, alongside that created within the camp, in a UK based exhibition, showcasing life on both sides of the fence.
A selection of the participants work is currently on display at Amnesty International UK, as part of their Refugee Summit in London.
"Our ethos at Amnesty International is to help empower the voices of those marginalised and discriminated against across the world. Which is why we are pleased to be showcasing the work of 'Welcome to Our Jungle' in our Refugee Summit. Please support the project to ensure refugee voices are heard."
Kristyan Benedict, Campaigns Manager - Crisis & Tactical
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT US
It's not all about financial donations, which are obviously much appreciated, but you can get involved by helping to spreading our message via social media!
Please follow us on:
Please encourage your friends to support us too!
Here are some ready made posts:
Pls support this incredible #participatoryphotography project @ourjunglecalais, giving a voice to #refugees. http://bit.ly/WTOJYC. Pls RT.
Please support this incredibly powerful participatory photography project ‘Welcome to Our Jungle’, giving a platform for the voices of the residents of the refugee camp in Calais.
If you can support us with donations in kind, by the way of printing, photographic equipment, wine/food for the exhibition etc, that would also be fantastic!
WHO ARE WE?
The 'Welcome to Our Jungle' Team is comprised of professional photography facilitators Clare Struthers
, Miguel Amortegui
and Becky Matthews
Clare has a wealth of experience in designing and running participatory photography projects , working with a variety of marginalised groups on projects in both the UK and internationally over the past 8 years. For 4 of those years she worked as a Project Manager for the charity PhotoVoice
Becky has been a press and editorial photographer for over fifteen years. For the past three years she has been Senior Lecturer on the Ba Photojournalism course at the University of South Wales.
In these times of increasing division and dehumanisation of certain groups within the world, it is more important than ever that projects like this exist to raise awareness about the experiences of the 'human beings' caught up in this crisis. They are not faceless "swarms" of migrants, but living, breathing, human beings, like you and I, with lives, families, hopes and dreams.
With YOUR support, we hope this project will go some small way towards helping to change the negative and inaccurate stereotypes and misconceptions of the incredible men, women and children stuck at the border in Calais and across Europe.
"The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that’s wrong with the world."
Be on the right side of history.
Thank you so much.
The 'Welcome to Our Jungle' Team.
This project is run in association with the refugee group Calais Action.