Jungle halas.

The impossible task we've been attempting is drawing to a close and I feel both absolved of responsibility and drowned in sorrow about the people we've had to leave behind. I'm not allowed in anymore and am suddenly redundant. Strings of half made thoughts race around my brain; jobs I never got around to, referrals lost in the depths of my phone. 


photo credit- refugee info bus https://www.facebook.com/RefugeeInfoBus/
photo credit- refugee info bus https://www.facebook.com/RefugeeInfoBus/


Our final day of distribution started at 6.45am. Topless Louis from the woodyard/cold food had walked into Secret Sudan intending to write down the tent number and shoe size of one man and predictably found himself unable to escape until a downpour cut him off at 210 people. In a purely Sudanese area of a few thousand people, most of which only have flip-flops, I was stuck in a loop of manic laughter for several hours at the thought of how we could orchestrate this feat without causing more distress than we were solving. With a team of the eleven most energetic maniacs I could gather, we set out in darkness, wasted half an hour opening every bin bag with numb fingers so the CRS could check each shoe, rolled up into Secret Sudan and began silently delivering to sleeping refugees. We were done before the sun came up. 


The remainder of the morning flew past and our suddenly twenty-odd-strong team delivered dozens of sleeping bags, shoes and jackets in a couple of hours. The third drop off was more problematic. Feeling they'd lost their voices, a few people directed their anger at us in the afternoon. Our shoes never made it to them, their feet were cold and hurting, but mostly their desperation wasn't for anything material. We failed at the last hurdle and couldn't deliver our final van-load of referrals to people in serious need. A man with a broken leg never got his backpack, many teenagers were left without shoes and we couldn't deliver any replacement clothing to people who were left with nothing after the fire. That was the tip of the iceberg, but the convoluted game was up. In desperation, bags of supplies were somehow taken from the van as Becca drove along and once people knew what was inside we could no longer pretend there was nothing of worth. There was no time for promises of tomorrow, even if we had been in the habit of giving them and we couldn't continue that afternoon. I've never had to make that call before and it wasn't the way I was hoping to leave the jungle forever. 


I will write more when I can think about it.


Write a comment

Comments: 16
  • #1

    Pom (Monday, 24 October 2016 20:23)

    Thinking of you Katie and sending hugs xxx

  • #2

    Mary-Ann (Monday, 24 October 2016 23:13)

    Katie we are so glad you were there, when so many of us just watched. Keep writing, people are reading, feeling the sadness with you and hoping the suffering will ease soon Xxxx

  • #3

    Katie Featherstone (Tuesday, 25 October 2016 10:20)

    Thank-you, I'm a bit lost now.

  • #4

    Steven (Thursday, 27 October 2016 05:10)

    so sad to read your blog post but i hope you are fine there,,keep sharing

  • #5

    Katie Featherstone (Thursday, 27 October 2016 10:27)

    Thank-you, it's very sad.

  • #6

    Sherry (Thursday, 27 October 2016 18:55)

    Katie, I am a regular reader. I don't remember if I have ever commented, but I am now. I am deeply moved and awakened by your first hand accounts, your experiences front and center, and your ability to communicate the effect of it all via words. Your storytelling is powerful. Stories that are hard, real, reality.
    I believe, if you continue to write, your message(s) will make a mark, and will let those know about the human beings that you see are being forsaken. I care about these people, and I barely learned about the geographic location from which all this is happening.
    This is such huge injustice. I can feel it. If you write, something of these,situations lives on in purpose in the hearts of those that it touches. I really REALLY don't care about consuming media, but I DO care about information, awareness, and being conscious. I care about the truth of situations occuring. It can get lost easily. Or forsaken itself.
    I check here often, to see what is unfolding, how you are fairing, and what you are doing.

  • #7

    Katie Featherstone (Thursday, 27 October 2016 19:05)

    Hi Sherry, thanks so much for commenting. I'm sorry I haven't been giving you more regular updates. Up until this point I've been pretty busy! I'd be really interested to know where you're from? I don't remember you commenting before either, but thank-you- it was the opportune moment- I have never felt more helpless than at this moment...

  • #8

    Janet de Maine (Friday, 28 October 2016 10:14)

    Katie just read your post. so sad

  • #9

    Katie Featherstone (Friday, 28 October 2016 10:30)

    Me too. x

  • #10

    Janet de Maine (Friday, 28 October 2016 11:34)

    Only a little of my message got posted

  • #11

    Janet de Maine (Friday, 28 October 2016 13:12)

    Just wanted to say how glad I was to visit and to see all the effort you are Dan were putting in along with the volunteers there. Was amazing. Must be so hard to see what didn't get done and the needs still that you can't do anything about, but so glad for all the people you did help. For the people that woke up in the morning to find a parcel next to the tent, for those that had a hot meal, were given shoes and clothes and a warm sleeping bag, given wood to cook with and to keep warm. For those that received support and encouragement from you, were helped to get to the hospital when they needed it, the deaf and vulnerable people that were supported - it would have made a huge difference to them. Been seeing a lot of support on facebook and also wanted to let you know that we looked on the Devon website to see if there was anything we could do to help the ones that have been sent here, but they said they were overwhelmed with offers of help, so that made me feel glad - there is light in the darkness. Well done, well done and well done from us here. x

  • #12

    Rod (Friday, 28 October 2016 15:43)

    Apologies, first time I've looked at your blog since long before you went to Calais, though you and Dan have been in our thoughts and prayers daily, and of course those for whom you have shown such care. Thank you for helping to get the message across.You have done well to do what you can do. More than that cannot be done. That reminds me of someone who has said: "You can do no great things. You can do small things with great love." This is what you have done. I hope you will now be able to rest up and, as Jan tries to say, keep focussed on those things you DID manage to do. We've been praying that the children will be taken care of, let us know how that's going ...

  • #13

    Katie Featherstone (Saturday, 29 October 2016 01:17)

    Thanks for all the kind words.

  • #14

    Rod (Saturday, 29 October 2016 17:04)

    That quote was from Mother Teresa, so you're in good company. She seems to have come into some criticism lately but she was showing mercy to the poorest and most despised long before the internet even existed, along with it's trolls, hacks and armchair experts. Reading some more of your blog today, I'd agree with Sherry above; first-hand accounts are so much more real. You should think of getting some into the press, if you haven't already ...

  • #15

    Sherry (Thursday, 03 November 2016 06:23)

    Katie thank you for your response. I am from Burbank, California, US. Basically in the Los Angeles area. I am glad to meet you and your passionate connection to these humans I have never met. The way in which you write, you do not need to worry about how often you post. It is enough that you are posting, and the quality of what you are able to depict with words is far more important.

    I have also read your more recent posts after this one, and I have to say when I heard what happened that Calais was burning, this was the first place I was checking. It rips my heart out, and devastates my spirit.
    You are a busy woman, and you are doing much important things with your energy and time, but if you ever would like a long-distanced friend, a penpal of sorts, please feel free to email me SherBatt@gmail.com.

  • #16

    Marc Vilalta (Friday, 07 April 2017 15:57)

    Hi, we are students from a school from Barcelona we are very proud of the job that you did in Jungle Halas, thanks of people like you the world goes better than it could go. We guf you all the support of the world to coninue this experience!!!

Phone Credit For Refugees and Displaced People is a volunteer run organisation. I can't stress their importance enough - please click on the image below and join the facebook group to find out how you can help. If you are not on facebook, you can still donate here


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