The father with a young teenage son and daughter were sharing a thin curtain as a blanket. The father was sat sleeping with his head on his knees and his children were huddled close to him. I took some blankets and went to them. I thought of my own son, soon to be 8, safe, warm.
Three nights ago Alex had his birthday in a secret, tucked-away corner of a Parisian city park.
He is young in his round face. Has an easy sticky-out-toothy smile that reaches his soft eyes. He has one of those silly annoying hairstyles that is half flicky emo fringe and half super stylish. He's kinda goofy, charming and desperately talkative. His English is perfect but with unmistakable Afghan mannerisms.
For two years, since the Calais “jungle” camp was demolished in October 2016, the French authorities have inflicted the same heinous actions time and time again on the refugees who have found their way to northern France. Heavy-handed, intimidating evictions, destruction of tents, encampments, and personal belongings and police force, tear gas and brutality. Time and again it’s not worked, and yet still they keep going.
Here in Puglia there seemed to be a very different, more commonplace response to these (mainly African) guys by the locals. Everywhere I looked, they interacted. Shop, cafe and bar staff, bantering with the street traders. Fine-dressed women, smiling, inspecting their goods, politely declining. Italian kids sharing fist-bumps and more - laughter, camaraderie. I saw colleagues and friendships, between locals and migrants.