Calais Field Music is a project I recently came across which was set up by Dublin based Isolda Heavey to help the refugees in the ‘Jungle’ camp at Calais. To date they have released five albums via Bandcamp which features field recordings of musicians from the camp – each covering a different region. In each she reveals a story behind the release, some of which are very revealing of the conditions and circumstances that refugees are living in – a story we don’t tend to see or hear through what’s becoming a very one way street in media reporting. The following is an extract from the latest release:
Sounds of Kurdistan
Two weeks ago I visited the MSF camp in Dunkirk. A far cry from ‘The Jungle’ in Calais, it is a camp made of wooden shelters with good sanitation, showers and toilets. 700 people live there, most of them Kurdish. Two friends who live in the camp in Calais came with me out of curiosity and for something to do for the day. They were impressed by the conditions.
However, when I met with a resident called Beshwar, he told me how unstable the situation is there. For the last 2 weeks the authorities had been stopping any new arrivals from staying in the camp and there are plans to demolish some unused shelters there. The idea being that everyone in the camp must seek asylum in France and not use the camp as a gateway to the UK. Unfortunately the implications of that are people who have nowhere to go and will end up sleeping rough. And despite the relatively good living conditions it’s still a place of little security and uncertain future.
Besh has been living here since before the MSF camp was built. The old camp was a cold and muddy with only flimsy tents for shelter, infested with rats and disease. He lived there with his mum and four brothers; his mum cooking for neighbours in the camp and Besh advocating for better living conditions and safe passage.
His mum and two brothers have since crossed to the UK, whilst he waits and hopes for his chance to come.
After tea and a tour of the camp, Besh played some music for me. It turns out he plays many instruments and sings.
As he improvised through a few tunes, I couldn’t help but feel sadness from his clarinet and duduk lines. I asked him about Assyrian music and sang a song for me accompanied by bouzouki.
I hope you enjoy the music. All proceeds from downloads will go directly to Besh in Dunkirk. It is a way to help refugees within the camp at Calais earn their own money by sharing their music. Proceeds go directly to the camp’s artists.
For all releases please visit: calaisfieldmusic.bandcamp.com
In addition to the music there is artwork by Liam Hourican (view them here), all proceeds will be used on direct aid to the camp.