Planning the fieldwork in Calais. Women&Children’s Center
The time to go to Calais for the doctoral internship is coming soon, so I am trying to get ready for it. If at the beginning I was kind of stressed and anxious about the security issues in « the jungle » ( the name for the slums at Calais ), I am getting more and more reassurance by finding out the details of our fieldwork. The organisers (two professors of INALCO, Paris) decided to get us involved in the activities of the associations that are already working with the refugees in the camps. There are 80% Anglophone associations, and the one I will be a volunteer for is Women and Children’s Center .Lead by Liz Clegg, they run daily activities, provide essential care, supplies and services necessary to support children, women and babies. I will have the possibility to meet there women and children – especially young unaccompanied child refugees, often coming from Afghanistan, certain Syrian families, and young women from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq. According to Prof Alexandra Galitzine, one of the leaders of our research team, the Women & Children’s Center (W&CC) is run by people who are very familiar with the camp, and it is a safe place. There is a convivial atmosphere, although the camp traumas can also be noticed.
There are two main activities that I will be able to attend and participate to. Firstly, the Beauty Day, held on Saturdays, is reserved only for women and girls (no man admitted). It is a special time for the women in the camp who want to take care of themselves: nail painting is one of the main activities during this time. Since I have some experience as a hairdresser, and I really like nail painting, I think I could make good use of my skills in the camp, while being a participant observer as a researcher.
Secondly, the center has a double decker bus inside « the jungle ». According to the center’s volunteering document, the top deck of the bus fonctions as an educational playspace for children under the age of 10. Here they organise classes and games and other educational activities. These will be a good opportunity for me to benefit from my long experience with young children in intercultural contexts and from my volunteer work with Roma children in the Parisian slums at the street library workshop.
I am looking forward to volunteer at W&CC in Calais!