Close to the port of Calais there is an area encompassing a few hundred square meters that is known as ‘The Jungle’. The people occupying this area have traveled many miles to get there, and their journey is still not at an end. Calais is the departure point for the final and most desirable crossing. There are thousands of people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria, all in search of a better life in Britain, the destination of their dreams. While they await the opportunity to make the great crossing, they build temporary shelters: tent-like structures made of waste material from the immediate surroundings of the camp.—Henk Wildschut
Netherlands-based photographer Henk Wildschut has traveled extensively to Calais, Dunkirk, Malta, Patras and Rome, documenting temporary shelters built by illegal immigrants in transition. What caught Wildschut’s eye about these shelters were the subtle indicators of domesticity and the feeling of a home—the presence of a garden around the entrance, or neatly organized belongings. He describes Calais as “the place where the hidden world of illegality comes to the surface and becomes visible. Calais is also the place where a better life is dreamed of for the last time. For those who get to the other side, there is only the harsh reality of the illegal life in the big city or deportation back to the homeland.” The shelters sit quietly in their discreet locations—vessels transient in place and time—and we are left to contemplate the who, the when, and the where in the journey to come.