It was a Friday, also this date exactly five years ago. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, and the first week at work after the holiday had come to an end. The agenda for the afternoon was to sort my children’s clothes, and apart from that the weekend was quite open without plans. I looked so much forward to spend it with my two youngest ones, 1 and 3 years years old.
What did actually happen that afternoon, as I was in my daughter`s room, packing away the clothes she had outgrown? Over the past five years, I have asked myself that question hundreds of times. How can a life change direction so drastically in just a few minutes? The radio program that was on in the background was actually quite boring. A debate on whether Norway could assist just a few of the hundreds of thousands who fled the war in Syria, and who arrived Europe on the Greek islands. But I did not usually get very involved in such debates, other than thinking; poor people who have to flee their homes.
I had not even finished my thought before it struck me as lightning from a clear sky. DO SOMETHING FOR F … S….! It was as if someone slapped me hard on the shoulder and said; “Do not just stand there in your safe home and feel sorry for these people. Go out and do something! YOU can make a difference”.
The reaction that followed was heavy. I began to tremble and tears rolled down my cheeks. When 3-year-old Isabel asked what is wrong Mummy, I just answered; “I just realized that I might be able to do something for people who are on the run.”
That same evening, when the little ones were in bed, the Facebook group “Dråpen i Havet” was born. I invited my oldest daughter as a first member, and then just some more friends. The group was created as a place where I could share the plans and document the situation, if I would manage to go to Greece. The next 8 days until departure became extremely busy. I bought a one-way ticket with a charter flight to Lesvos. Having lived in Greece for 8 years, I know the country well, but I had never been to this particular island.
The following days I will never forget. Standing on a beach and receiving boat after boat after boat, filled to the brim with people who came quite directly from a war-torn Syria, gave me some unforgettable impressions. It surprised me that there were so many children. It surprised me that absolutely no aid organizations were in place, on this beach in Europe where thousands came ashore every day.
During the three days I was on Lesvos, the small facebook group had grown to 11,000 members! Good friends helped managing the fast-growing group and took away some of the inquiries that came. It was no longer just “a drop” – suddenly it had become many drops of solidarity. Already on the plane on the way home, I knew that together with hundreds of fellow human beings who had offered their help, in one way or another, we would be able to make a huge effort for people in need.
Three days after my return, the first team of 16 aid workers traveled to Lesvos, and we have contributed in Greece every single day since then. The aid workers, who now count more than 7000, have been the main pillar of the organization we have built together. They come from 67 different countries and are people of all ages, with different backgrounds, skills, beliefs and cultures. They have seen children being born, they have seen people drown, they have saved lives and they have built schools. They have distributed food, they have both taught and learnt themselves. They have built friendships across borders, and many have become richer, not in money, but in life.
Besides assisting boats on the shores of several islands, the drops have contributed to the camps Moria, Vial, Skaramagas, Elefsina, Piraeus, Nea Kavala, Cherso, Idomeni, Sounio, Dipethe and Souda. We have also operated several activity centers outside the camps.
I am so grateful that the opportunity to help making a difference came my way this day exactly 5 years ago. I am so grateful to each and every one of those who have contributed with voluntary efforts, both in the field and here at home. I am so grateful for our administrative team that contributes far beyond what one can expect.
Most of all, I am grateful to all of you who follow, share, support the work that is done and that way contribute to solidarity and a more human world.
Happy 5th Anniversary All Drops!