It is hard to read the news at the moment and not be moved by the sight of families arriving in Europe from war-torn countries with very little with them. If you follow me on Twitter you will see the number of things I share on this issue, hopefully to help change some people’s minds about this situation. It is hard to understand how many people fail to see that these are human beings who need help and aren’t just coming to Europe for a free ride but to actually have a safe place to live with their families. Back in 2005 when I was working for the Women’s Institute, NGOs and aid charities were already making bleak predictions of mass migration caused by environmental, economic and social/political instability. It is happening now and regardless of your politics, it is hard to deny that these people need our help.
I asked around on Friday to find somewhere that I could donate some of my son’s old winter clothes where I knew they would be going directly to the people who need them now. I joined a fantastic Facebook group (here) and found that there was a massive movement of Danes helping refugees both here in Denmark and also in Greece. It was through this on Sunday that I found there was a collection point about twenty minutes from us where they were gathering donations to be taken later next week to Lesvos. It was a one day thing and had been promoted via social media. I packed an old suitcase with winter kids’ clothes, kids’ shoes, an old sleeping bag and a winter coat of mine I no longer need and headed over there. I also bought a pack of nappies.
On my arrival I was greeted by a twenty something woman who showed me where to put the different things on piles to help with sorting later. I asked her if she was one of the organisers but she said no, she had arrived with her donation that morning and had stuck around to help out. There were lots of people including children milling around, adding bags of clothes etc to the piles. People where sitting by the bags of shoes, tying them into pairs and sorting out the less suitable shoes. A truck arrived and people spontaneously started a human chain the pack in the bags of clothes, there were calls for more hands and more people helped (I did the best I could with one arm and then went to help with shoe sorting). There was one man there who, like the girl at the gate, had arrived to make a donation and had stayed to help with the heavier work.
There was obviously some element of organisation but there was no defined organisers as such, people where helping where they could, asking each other as to where to put things and if there was a need for extra hands. It felt right to stay for a while and help out. As I left there were still more people arriving on foot, by bike and in cars with donations. It was a day that really restored faith in the kindness of people.
There is still, of course, need for more help and there are more places taking donations up until the end of today (1 September) for a shipment to go out to Lesvos next week. You can find the locations and what they need here. There is also serious need to help sort all the tonnes of donations at a warehouse at Læhegnet 75 in Albertslund. After this drive there will be more so if this is something you want to help with and are on Facebook join this group, Venligboerne København & omegn to keep up to date with how you can help.
We went to drop off some clothes and jackets at the collection point in Vesterbro and boy was there a load already! It was heartening to see people help out.