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My friend AUKJE DEKKER, an artist hailing from Amsterdam, the Netherlands made an appeal on Facebook, in which she asked for clothes, sleeping bags and other supplies that could help the urgent need in Calais. With lots of help, including Obey, she went to France with a packed car. This is her story.

So this is what it is: the Jungle in Calais. 4000 people in a kind of fucked up Glastonbury situation, waiting for asylum, or trying to make their way to the UK by jumping on trains at night. I’ve never seen so many men with broken legs from failed attempts as in the Jungle. The Jungle; it implies a place for exotic animals. By the west perceived as one specie, as if it’s a homogeneous society.

But what you get when u are there is a multicultural trip into humanity, a walk through utopia, without hierarchy or any form of authority you walk from Sudan to Eritrea to Ethiopia through Afghanistan to Syria and it is seriously inspiring how good-natured it is. You pass the tents as if it was a festival long gone and they are the leftovers. They can’t go even though their clothes are soaked, their bed is moist and the music is out.

In the Jungle the vast majority is male (90%).These men are young, strong and full of life. Lot’s of them have spent 5 years a slave in Libya, because only through Libya they could make the escape from their country. They have seen their complete family being killed by bombs, by guns, by garnets, or they were the ones saying; “Listen mom, listen little sis: We will get out, im going to make sure we will.” So, it is those men; the strongest, the bravest, the smartest, that are there.

And even though its truly great people from all over the globe showing their compassion by donating their old shoes, clothes and tents to help these people. It was the brand new cool stuff that made them feel validated.

The boys I know from Amsterdam get sponsored by Nike, by Patta and by Obey for the things they do or the way they look. Handing the refugees these clothes and asking them to strike a pose made them look not only good, but allowed them, for a chance, to leave the role of the victim behind and just be the 29 year old looking fresh. It bypassed the charity label; they were sponsored boys. The most fierce, strong and handsome models a brand could look for and even though the show ain’t over, it showed them we see them just as one of us, deserving the best.


Photos by Aukje Dekker.