Posted by steven greaves photography on April 22, 2010 · 

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Although the story of Terre des Oublis continues, I will no longer be a contributor. While I embark on other journeys in Africa and Asia, those that struggle here will continue to pen their tales. Ishmael will, as usual, run from the police in an attempt to keep his fingerprints out of European Union databases. Abdi will continue to watch CNN and BBC (his joke) in the flames of the fires that burn each night in “Africa House.” And Salim will sit contemplative on the perimeters and say little; I can only imagine what plagues him. For them, the story continues. It is a tale of despair, a tragedy, but one that does not enjoy a place on the best-seller list. 

For me, Calais was a lark. It was something to do… killing time… before my rendezvous with the Legion. It was a small story and an opportunity to hone my travel and photography skills before embedding. Huddled with the Afghans against the furious January gales coming off the English Channel, I did not imagine that I would return to Calais over and over… and over.  The story stuck with me. It would not leave my head. It would not leave my heart. 

I have developed bonds of friendship over late night conversations illuminated by dancing flames. Often we said nothing and silence became the entertainment. Often there was laughter as we joked about the police or when they taught me tribal dialects and I fumbled over the words. Sorrow and anger was shared on the days that many were arrested or when we discussed families back home. And, triumph and jubilation was partaken in when one received a call from another who had successfully made it across. Those were the good days; I do not recall enough of them. 

It was not always like this. I fought hard to be accepted. Countless days were spent prowling the perimeter looking for a way in. To them, I was merely another white guy with a camera…another opportunist. To this secret world, the keys are infrequently given. It is a world that resides in humanity’s underbelly. It is one of “clan” and “mafia” governance. It is one of Western fear built on xenophobia. It is one of human trafficking and, it is one of death. Although I know this only from the conversations, my work would focus instead on the humanity and courage of the victims in this cruel narrative. To dig deeper into the underbelly would require more time, more resources and more courage. It is a story I shall return to. 

This work is dedicated to them. In the land of the forgotten, I can only remember… and, with shared tears, I depart. 

I remain deeply moved……….

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