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The Continent that Forgot its Humanity


In September 2020 the infamous Moria refugee camp on the Greek island Lesbos burnt to the ground and left thousands of people living on the streets. In the coming months, there was a stark need for all kinds of necessities.

In Denmark, Mette Nielsen, Ida Lund-Larsen, and Nanna Vedel-Hertz fought a hard battle to not let what was happening on Lesbos go unnoticed by the public and the politicians. Along with a group of volunteers they arranged happenings, lighting candles, and singing for the people on Lesbos. Mette and Ida went to countless meetings with politicians. The group made an email campaign and also discovered that the aid Denmark had supposedly sent to Lesbos never reached the island. This was something that captured the attention of the Danish media for a little while, and the group felt so hopeful. So sure, the time had come for action. But once again, nothing happened, and Lesbos and all the people stranded there slipped into the shadows.

So, Mette Nielsen and Nanna Vedel-Hertz went to Lesbos themselves to see if they could raise more attention by showing the world that the conditions had not improved, and that people still needed international collaboration and assistance.  A couple of days prior to leaving they started a fundraiser, to assist people in the camp. In total, they raised 210.000 kroner.

“[We] were in awe and felt responsible to make sure that each cent went to something meaningful.”

In the end, Mette Nielsen and Nanna Vedel-Hertz decided to use the money on 1.500 waterproof and warm boots for the kids who were otherwise walking around in rubber sandals. Boots that could hopefully keep their feet warm when the camp would be flooded again, or when their family decided to walk the risky Balkan route, crossing snowy mountains and rivers. The money also went to colouring books in the hopes that they would – at least for a few minutes – allow the kids to focus on something kidlike.


A young child receives new boots.

While on Lesbos, one of the people that Mette and Nanna met was Fatima who had come to a distribution centre with her 5-year-old son Mohammed. Fatima described how her son had talked about not wanting to live anymore on numerous occasions. Fatima told Nanna and Mette that one minute Mohammed would act normally, while the next he would be crying uncontrollably. Fatima and her husband had taken Mohammed to the doctors on the island to get help, but nothing had come of it, and they were still struggling trying to figure out how to best help Mohammed. As Mette and Nanna spoke to Fatima became very upset just talking about this situation. It was extremely clear that all she wanted was a future for her son. A future where he could feel safe and start to live and feel as a 5 year old should: Careless and happy. Fatima and the image of her holding Mohammed in the most motherly way possible is an image that will stay with Nanna forever.

Fatima lovingly holds her five-year-old son Mohammad.

Ever since the success of the first fundraiser Mette has continued the work through the NGO Act for Life. Nanna continues to be involved and in August 2021 the pair went to Athens doing another fundraiser. Both Mette and Nanna will continue doing this work – both together under Act for Life, and separately. Click here to learn more about this action project.