Life in the jungle

A poem about life in Calais and how it must’ve felt like before it got dismantled earlier this year and people were transferred to camps / centres in France.


A point near the sea

not where oceans but two countries meet

thousands stranded

human beings, they are just like us

politics inter fear, abandoned thus


where to go? this place is new

a jungle created right out of the blue

are we monkeys, trapped in a zoo?


I don’t see any forest around

so many people in tents on the ground

everybody’s up and have created a small town

try to stay sane as we are EU bound


kitchens, book clubs, our own economy

from Africa to Asia to the Middle-East

we have to survive together same ancestry


sure there’s some squabbles and fights

but we all under the same roof come midnight

there’s very little hope but we still have the light


darkness rules when nobody cares

we just trying to create a better life ain’t fair

maybe big expectations, but for this you cannot prepare

so close to my family, this I cannot bear


years of oppression, war and poverty in a state

I was born in, did not choose, but chose to escape

Did I have a choice, silenced when raising my voice

can you imagine it, can you relate?


go to Europe everyone said

no option to stay here, where you will end up dead

that’s what kept me going even in a sea of red

but this hole is what I found instead


there is water but it’s not running properly

an open sewer so you can just pee

showers forget about it

feces all around, inhumane basically


in amidst all of this, children get lost

yet people in power worry about costs

police arrives when it burns but will they learn

we only try to get warm coming frost


some even attack us, where is the protection

luckily we have volunteers who show affection

help us so much, there’s an instant connection

we are lost but we get some direction


after so much waiting you start to explore alternatives

cannot just stay here, something’s gotta give

should I get on the lorry or stay positive


many have tried but came back

some were less fortunate, lost track

how can we stay sane when we supposed to crack?


every now and then the media comes impressed

and while most carry on, some protest

it’s like talking to a wall, a fence at best

a life ended but the loss of revenue makes the press


together we made it work somehow

through all the grief, we laugh and dance now

because we are in a centre and made it out


where to go? we have to get on a bus

many are left behind, it’s created a fuss

sadly caught in between, staying a must


the jungle is still there, you see

we are stranded where two countries meet

trying to get to the UK

but we aren’t seen as equals unfortunately

politics interfered, stay in France, me?


by Jelle Wassenaar- Issues Without Borders member, former volunteer in a refugee camp




Proposed by

on 19 July 2017

3 persons shared their opinion! Join the discussion!

  • Nuzhat Aman said on Reply

    Very beautiful and heart touching. Nicely portray the life of refuges & their sentiments, when they forced to leave their homeland just because of war. And they became refugees .

  • Dev said on Reply

    Brilliant work! Talent is evident. Keep ’em coming Jelle.

  • Patricia Papuc said on Reply

    Great work! Looking forward for more stories Jelle

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