Johanna Schroedl and Malthe Gronert, both 2020 Copenhagen Fellows, have completed a donation drive in support of Becky’s Bathhouse, a women’s health promotion center serving refugee women and children in Lesbos, Greece. They have directly aided 120 refugee women and their children from the Mavrouni refugee camp on Lesbos. Though the project primarily occurred in Greece and in coordination with Becky’s Bathhouse, there was also tremendous work done in both Denmark and Germany. In support of their project and in order to further refugee protection in Greece, Johanna and Malthe raised $990 from friends, family, and those passionate about protecting asylum seekers’ rights.
During their Fellowship, Johanna and Malthe were brainstorming about different options for an Action Project and decided that they wanted to support refugees who arrive in Europe, especially women, who often face more difficulties and hardships in refugee camps. They were motivated to partner up with an already established organization because they knew these organizations have much more expertise in the specific realm of asylum seeking, so they wanted to just continue aiding in the work that is already being done.
The donation drive, completed in December of 2021, addressed the ongoing difficulties that refugees face when they arrive in Greece, more precisely on the island of Lesbos. Many organizations are providing direct support on the island, but Johanna and Malthe were compelled and inspired to partner with Becky´s Bathhouse because of the intimately helpful and impactful work that they do for asylum seekers on Lesbos. This organization is dependent on donations in order to distribute needed items that are difficult to get on the island, such as hijabs and abayas. Johanna and Malthe knew that a donation drive for Becky’s Bathhouse would be one of the most direct avenues to alleviate some of the difficulties that the Lesbos refugees are facing, so they further developed the idea of a donation drive for items Becky’s Bathhouse urgently needed.
Resources they needed & how they manage to receive them: Connections to potential donors —> Through friends, networks, and a mosque community Money to ship the donations —> Private fundraising Connections to organizations that could help with shipping —> Research and collaboration
Resources they needed & how they manage to receive them:
Connections to potential donors —> Through friends, networks, and a mosque community
Money to ship the donations —> Private fundraising
Connections to organizations that could help with shipping —> Research and collaboration
They started their endeavors by reaching out to one of their friends who works directly with refugees in Lesbos because they wanted to find out from an insider perspective how to best support refugees in the area. Their friend connected them to Becky’s Bathhouse because of the organization’s reputation of relying on donations and outside support to run their facility. Following this, they got in touch with the staff at Becky’s Bathhouse to ask how they could support their work. The staff suggested a donation drive, gathering material donations and sending it back to the shelter, because it would be the most effective avenue to help.
Following this research-phase of the project, Johanna and Malthe started figuring out how to actualize this donation drive. Among numerous other tasks, they were in touch with Danish authorities to figure out what license they would need to do this sort of project. After many discussions back and forth, they figured out they could finally start the donation drive without needing a license.
Pro tip: If you are wanting to start a donation drive or fundraise money in Denmark, you need to open a special bank account for that purpose, which costs around 1,000 DKK. However, if you do in- kind donations, such as directly reaching out to companies and persons via mail, etc., then you do not need to open such a bank account. Johanna and Malthe did the latter and it really helped them!
They reached out to several companies asking for donations of hijabs, leggings, underwear etc., but without much luck. After tireless effort and phenomenal work, they finally received a very generous donation from a local mosque in Hamburg, Germany which donated more than thirty boxes of clothes to the drive.
Coming to Fruition
The final part of the project was thus to sort out how to get those boxes to Lesbos. In order to do this, Johanna and Malthe managed to raise more than 800€ from supporters to cover the transportation of the boxes. Subsequently, this also allowed them to raise awareness within their own communities about the conditions of life for refugees in Lesbos.
At the end of December in 2021, the clothes were finally sent from Hamburg to Lesbos and arrived at Becky’s Bathhouse where they were distributed to refugee women and children in need.