This audio story was prepared as an assignment for my postgraduate program in Digital Storytelling at KASK School of Arts. The assignment was given under the instruction of Katharina Smets.
The assignment was to:
“make 3 minutes of interesting audio storytelling with:
- In the title: a natural phenomenon;
- In the story: something “close to the skin”, meaning engagement/empathy/involvement in a literal or a figurative way;
- The sound of a language different than Dutch or English.”
I chose to tell a story based on my experiences volunteering with refugee support efforts in Northern France. Here it is:
Audio story by Rebecca Bramlett
Music: Julia (2018) by Max Waves, Creative Commons license
REBECCA BRAMLETT (NARRATOR): It’s November, and since the winter weather has arrived…
(SOUNDS OF VOLUNTEER AND REFUGEE VOICES, “You wait here and then you get gloves” … INDISTINGUISHABLE … “No, we don’t have tents”)
REBECCA (NARRATOR): …today we’re distributing hats, gloves, scarves, socks, new t-shirts … items to help the refugees stay warm as they are sleeping rough. One man has just arrived to the area and he has nothing but the clothes and bag on his back.
MALE REFUGEE #1: I’m new.
REBECCA (BACKGROUND): You’re new? You have nothing?
FAITH (A VOLUNTEER): You have no jacket?
MALE REFUGEE #1: No jacket.
(SOFT AMBIENT INSTRUMENTAL BACKGROUND MUSIC BEGINS TO PLAY, CONTINUES TO PLAY)
REBECCA (NARRATOR): It’s heartbreaking to have to say, “no” …
MALE REFUGEE #2: Do you still have shoes for babies?
REBECCA (BACKGROUND): No shoes, no, no shoes.
REBECCA (NARRATOR): …when I don’t have something a person needs, but so often they say, “it’s no problem, my friend!”
VOICES OF MALE REFUGEES: “It’s no problem.” “No problem.” “No problem.”
REBECCA (NARRATOR): They say “thank you” in so many ways.
VOICES OF MALE REFUGEES: indecipherable … Inshallah … Inshallah … Inshallah … indecipherable … masalam.
REBECCA (NARRATOR): In this area of Dunkirk, the refugees have access to one source of running water.
(SOUND OF RUNNING WATER. OCCASIONAL INDECIPHERABLE VOICES AND LAUGHTER.)
REBECCA (NARRATOR): It’s an outdoor tap that is completely exposed with a few spigots. It’s connected to its source – a leaky main water pipe – by an old hose that runs though a muddy ditch, across a road, and through another muddy ditch. Today we estimate there are about 500 displaced people, including families with children, who are living here in these surrounding woods, sharing this one source of running water for drinking and personal hygiene. We also give first aid, treating many ailments brought on by these inadequate, unsanitary living conditions.
(SOUND OF A MAN CRYING)
MICHELLE (A VOLUNTEER): I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
REBECCA (NARRATOR): One man has a terribly painful cyst.
(SOUND OF A MAN CRYING)
MICHELLE (A VOLUNTEER): Oh, I’m so sorry. Alright, Alright, It’s okay.
REBECCA (NARRATOR): A young baby has a bad cough, and diarrhea, and a diaper rash.
(SOUND OF BABY COUGHING)
REBECCA (NARRATOR): We treat gastrointestinal problems, coughs, rashes, funguses, scabies.
MICHELLE (A VOLUNTEER): Can we have sterile water please?
REBECCA (NARRATOR): One man has a third degree burn on his arm from a fire he was just using to keep warm and dry.
MICHELLE (A VOLUNTEER): The scab has got to come off, otherwise it’s gonna get more infected. Can you get me the scalpel set?
REBECCA (NARRATOR): We give aid until it is too dark to see what we’re doing anymore.
MICHELLE (A VOLUNTEER): Bye!
FAITH (A VOLUNTEER): Bye!
(VOICES OF MALE REFUGEES SAYING “BYE”)
REBECCA (NARRATOR): We leave for the night.
MALE REFUGEE #3: See you later!
(VOICES OF MALE REFUGEES SAYING, “THANK YOU” and “THANK YOU VERY MUCH”)
REBECCA (BACKGROUND): You’re welcome. See you.
REBECCA (NARRATOR): Their voices are ringing in my head.
(VOICES OF MALE REFUGEES SAYING, “NO PROBLEM!”)
REBECCA (NARRATOR): But this situation is a problem. It’s a huge problem. We do what we can to help today but it feels like we are treating an amputation wound with a BAND-AID. A man who has been living in this area of Dunkirk for a year walks with us.
(SOFT AMBIENT INSTRUMENTAL BACKGROUND MUSIC ENDS)
(SOUNDS OF WALKING ON WET CONCRETE)
FAITH (A VOLUNTEER): Where are you going now, to sleep?
MALE REFUGEE #4: We don’t know.
FAITH (A VOLUNTEER): Oh. You don’t go to sleep?
MALE REFUGEE #4: Yeah. That’s why we try to find somewhere. It’s hell life!
FAITH (A VOLUNTEER): Where did you sleep yesterday?
MALE REFUGEE #4: Jungle. Somewhere like this. Where are you going to sleep?
Soundcloud version here: