(Originally posted to Facebook on August 9, 2016 in Paris, France)
Yesterday I was supposed to settle into Calais to work at the Jungle- the sprawling refugee campsite within. Due to ISIS security threats to my mode of transportation from England and the fact that I'm a woman traveling alone, I was advised not to come at the last minute. Instead, I have found myself in Paris- a city that since my first visit years ago I thought too gilded, too frilly, honestly just too nice for my taste- working alongside the British-based Refugee Aid Network.
I have a lot more I'd like to say about this, but for now I just want to share some photos, a few thoughts (trust me, this is a few in my brainworld), and save most of the words for when the shock dissipates a little.
This is Paris, but not the one you know so fondly.
The one you know would never allow children or pregnant women sleep on a sidewalk after surviving a boat ride from Afghanistan. It wouldn't teargas and arrest 200 asylum seekers at random this morning only to take them to a station so far outside of Paris that it's near impossible for them to return to the office holding their paperwork (required for being granted asylum) that they've been waiting outside of for months. The one you know would have couples picnicking alongside a canal, but that picture in your head doesn't include displaced refugees sleeping through fire engine sirens (specifically going for the purpose of being a nuisance to refugees) a few yards away from them.
I don't know the exact solution. But after watching a mother pushing her baby in a stroller actively turn her face away from this 3 year old playing with her Barbie doll in the dirt–– I'm certain choosing rose-colored glasses isn't it.