Wednesday 7 December 2016

Irish Odyssey: Travel readathon to raise funds for Calais refugee school

Odyssey: Continuous reading for Calais

Published 16/08/2016 | 09:17

Migrants use computers in a makeshift school on February 10, 2016, in the so-called
Migrants use computers in a makeshift school on February 10, 2016, in the so-called "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. Photo: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Migrant children are taught at a makeshift school in the "Jungle" camp in the port town of Calais, northern France, on February 16, 2016. Photo: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Migrant children attend a lesson in a makeshift school on February 10, 2016, in the so-called "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. Photo: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

From ancient odysseys to solo adventures, a feast of travel tales is coming to Dublin's Grafton Street this Thursday.

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If you're passing Dubray Books between 11am and 8pm, check the front window - where 50 participants will be reading for 10 minutes each in aid of L'École Laïque du Chemin des Dunes, a school for adult and child refugees in Calais, France.

Paul Howard (aka Ross O'Carroll-Kelly), Mark Pollock, Louise Kennedy, poets Colm Keegan and Angela Carr, food writer and Independent Travel contributor Aoife Carrigy and actor Aisling O'Sullivan are just a handful of the participants.

L'École Laïque du Chemin des Dunes is the only school for refugees at the Calais camp nicknamed 'Jungle', where thousands of migrants are living after fleeing violence in countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Migrant children attend a lesson in a makeshift school on February 10, 2016, in the so-called
Migrant children attend a lesson in a makeshift school on February 10, 2016, in the so-called "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. Photo: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

The school, now a year old, is run by waves of volunteers and a full-time staff of 30, and provides a safe space for children to play and make art, as well as teaching French and English to both children and adults.

The 50 readers taking part in 'Odyssey: A Continuous Reading for Calais' have selected works on the theme of travel - ranging from seafaring epics to solo adventures, tales of displacement, close escapes and new beginnings in foreign lands.

Odyssey's organiser, Fiona McHardy, a French teacher at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin, says the Calais school is most in need of dictionaries - including Pashtun, Kurdish and Arabic into French and/or English.

"Choosing the theme of travel was a bit of a brainwave, because it's so rich and evocative and, in this fraught context, so tragically loaded,” she added.

Donations are welcome on the day, or at ifundraise.ie/elcd.

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