To reach his home, you have to walk down a road with a chain across it, marked ‘no entry’, and through a collection of fairly wild-looking dogs.
The caravan is low-tech – Jeremie has a tiny portable b&w tv, a woodburning stove, and a few clothes. But he’s known and respected in the community he’s living in. He’s fixing up a couple of bikes, and is an electrician by trade.
Jeremie © Richard Hanson. Click to enlarge.
Jeremie is from Kinshasa in the DRC. He fled to the UK after being thrown in to jail, because of his involvement with the daughter of a general in the Congolese army. She became pregnant, and died during an attempted abortion. The general sent his men to arrest Jeremie, who was taken to jail and beaten.
With help from a cousin, he managed to escape, and came to the UK for safety, three and a half years ago. He’s lived across the country, from Birmingham to Dover, but has been in this caravan for nearly a year.
The one item that Jeremie has managed to bring with him was the shirt he’s wearing here. It was given to him by his wife, just before he left – she’d made the shirt for him.
This is Jeremie’s description of his last meeting with his wife. He hasn’t heard from her or his two children since:
I [went] with him, [the next] morning I see my wife coming, I see her, just small time, she takes these clothes. If I see these clothes I remember to my wife, I say why why… my wife she takes these clothes she give me, I put on the clothes – she put the clothes on me, I go with my cousin’s friend, I don’t know the arrangement – give him the money, I see her friend start the arrangements, take me with him inside the plane, pulled me with the hand, don’t tell, don’t talk, I have to go with you any place. I say OK, I’m just here … I see just Heathrow. I took the train, the traffic, I had … one friend here, he speaks a little French, I speak to him, I go with the friend here, I go to the house.