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El Dorado

Melissa Arras


About this campaign

I’m Melissa Arras, a photographer based in London. I spent a period over two years (from November 2014 to December 2016) observing the migrant/refugee crisis in Calais, France. During this time I witnessed the rise and wreckage of several camps in the area – temporary homes for countless people escaping war, torture and persecution in their home countries.

The largest camp – known as ‘the Jungle’ – was widely documented in the media and functioned as a community built from limited resources; a coming together of refugees, migrants and concerned volunteers. Temporary facilities like schools, art centres, sport pitches, mosques, churches, restaurants, goods shops and barbers occupied this space. Out of necessity it became a safe environment for people during a very difficult period of transition.

Now I want to do what I can to raise awareness that the refugee situation in Calais, and throughout the Mediterranean, has not gone away. By contributing to Help Refugees, we can help bring some dignity to people whose lives are on hold while they are trying to resolve their circumstances.
Working with Overlapse, we have published a zine of my photographs from Calais and a minimum donation of £1 FROM THE SALE OF EACH COPY will be contributed to this campaign. The zine can be purchased online at

EL DORADO is dedicated to refugees and migrants I met in the camps, symbolising their strength and determination during a very low point where cruelty has been allowed, by higher powers, to diminish their fellow human beings. I want to act with dignity and respect as a supportive voice for those who encountered injustices against their human rights.

We are encouraging others to MAKE A DONATION whether you purchase a zine or not. Each contribution will make a positive impact on individuals in desperate need of support. This is a movement of everyday people, and everybody has something to offer. WE CAN ALL MAKE A DIFFERENCE! We are aiming to raise £1000 with this campaign before the end of 2019.
OTHER WAYS TO HELP (see ‘Get involved’ at
Volunteer your time / Apply for work / Donate goods / Buy real gifts for refugees at

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK to spread some more love and solidarity in our global community! The refugees and migrants facing injustices don't deserve to suffer in dire circumstances.

Around one thousand people are living in Grande-Synthe without shelter. Mostly these are families, some with newly born babies. With nowhere else to go, they sleep in parks and on the streets.
Likewise, in Calais, around 500 people are sleeping in forests, under bridges and behind industrial buildings, often with little more than a sleeping bag for protection. French authorities are regularly destroying their tents and belongings in random acts of aggression.

Along with Refugee Youth Service and L’Auberge des Migrants, we have created a multi-agency child protection team to supplement the already overwhelmed system in the region.

With our brilliant partners L'Auberge des Migrants, Refugee Youth Service, Utopia 56, Refugee Info Bus and Refugee Community Kitchen, we continue to run the Calais warehouse and distribution teams.

Our volunteers work tirelessly to provide them with essential supplies every single day, while numbers are growing and provisions are often dwindling.

More than ever, we need your generosity. Living conditions are more precarious than ever. With our partners we are doing our best to fill as many of the gaps as we can.

Your generous donations will allow us to continue to do this work, continuing to fill gaps left by governments and big NGOs in a flexible, reactive, human way'.

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