What does the concept of shelter mean to someone without a home? Is it a distant dream, like getting rich and famous and eating ice-cream for breakfast may be for a Western teenager? Or is it something created in the space between reality and hope? Is it a garden?
These images by Dutch photographer Henk Wildschut were taken at the Shousha refugee camp on the border of Tunisia and Libya in 2011. There were around 3000 residents there at the time of his visit. At it’s peak, the Shousha camp housed a couple of hundred thousand people, mostly fleeing the crisis in Libya. What surprised Wildschut was the way that people living in such dire circumstances made an effort to grow gardens.
To me, these images are incredibly powerful. They illustrate the both the darkness and light of humanity. To be forced to flee your home for fear of death is unfathomable for many, yet for millions of people around the world it’s a reality.
To plant a garden in such a distressing and uncertain situation, however, is a clear illustration of hope. Suddenly, the temporary nature of the tent feels more like a home. A shelter even. This is an incredibly powerful thing.
Quotes can be a bit dorky. But there is a particular one I feel illustrates this story particularly well. No one seems to know who said it. It is this; ‘Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow’. So, we garden.