This project involved providing learning and setting up an area for children in the Grande Synthe refugee camp (near Dunkirk) known as Basroch camp.
We worked in this camp from November through to the 10th March 2016. A new camp was opened on the 7th March and this camp was closed on the 10th March.
During the duration of this project we deployed between 3 and 5 staff each day, rising to around 6 staff at particularly busy times. The numbers of refugees in the camp ranged up to 2000 with about 350 children at its peak.
The composition of the camp was mainly Kurdish people with some people also from Iran and Syria.
When we started in the camp we operated from a wooden bench, working with children in the open air. We were then donated a tent by one of the refugee families as the tent had too many holes in it to be appropriate for living in. Within a month we were given a second old tent which was also no longer fit for living in. We pitched this tent over the first tent so that the holes in each tent would be covered. The tents were irreparably ripped in a winter storm and so we moved to a donated ex-military tent which also had too many holes to be useful as living accommodation.
Initially we had no heating and no school furniture apart from wooden benches which refugee families made for us out of old pallets. In February 2016 a Belgium school donated surplus school tables and chairs and other camp volunteers donated a wood burning stove. The presence of heat massively increased what we could do.
Previous to that the children had been getting too cold to be able to write and lessons had had to be in short concentrated episodes. Conditions in the camp were so unhygienic and poor that the timetable was built around the need to take teachers out of the camp every two hours so that they could warm up and use hygienic drinking and toilet facilities.
The curriculum taught was mainly Maths, English and Science, with a particular focus upon mastery of the Western alphabet and numerical system. We taught about 300 children between 5 and 15 during the duration of the project.
Many of the children had been out of school for considerable periods of time. Some 10 year olds had never actually started in a school before as the schools in their home towns had been destroyed. We therefore did a significant amount of work on school-readiness, teaching children how to sit at a desk, how to hold a pen and how to work in a group setting.
Over the duration of the project approximately £50,000 of Educational Aid, voluntary support and donations were committed to this project.
The project came to an end when the camp was closed. We moved with the people from the camp to the new camp of La Liniere. In that new camp we opened a new facility: Studium La Liniere