Johanna with Friends


On an annual basis, we at Movement On The Ground are fortunate enough to attract more than 300 volunteers from across the globe to join us in our work to improve the condition of the camps on both Lesvos and Samos.

The length of stay varies from volunteer to volunteer, some stay for two weeks and others stay for up to six months. But, no matter how long each volunteer decides to stay, every one of them comes to the Aegean islands filled with determination and hope, ready to use their helpful hands and full hearts to tackle the often challenging tasks they are rostered to complete. 

Some of our recent visiting volunteers with our Olive Grove manager, Ali Shams Eddin.

The hands and hearts of our visiting volunteers also bring investments. Prior and during their stay, most of our volunteers engage in some sort fundraising activity, calling on their network to help raise money for our ground activities.

A volunteer-run fundraising campaign that recently caught our attention was called ‘Johanna with Friends’, set up up by a Dutch volunteer who is currently on Lesvos, Johanna Van De Wees and her friend Niels Koers.

The funraising efforts of the two friends caught our eye due to its uniqueness. The pair didn't run their fundraiser across social media or on a crowdfuning platform but instead, it actually remained relatively ‘under the water', to quote Johanna herself.

"It started with a touching letter that Niels wrote and sent via email to our friends and family," Johanna told us. "From there, I updated the mail group with ‘Verhaal van Onderweg’ [‘Stories from the Road’] about my time of Lesvos, something I always do when I travel."

Just one of the many images Johanna captured during her time on Lesvos - a true showcase of the hard work our team does on the ground!

Clearly, it was the personalised touch of the fundraiser that kept people engaged, because on the back end, we could see the donations rolling in from 'Johanna with Friends'. The email chain even sparked friends of Johanna to host a fundraising party for Movement On The Ground!

Of course, we can measure the success of this fundraising campaign based on the amount of money that was raised, however, we feel it to be more meaningful to highlight and recognise the power of this personalised approach to fundraising. What’s even more impressive is the proof that old school emailing and word of mouth still can make a great impact.

We would like to personally thank Johanna and Niels for their fundraising efforts and their commitment to our cause. We would also like to thank all of our other visiting volunteers for their time and fundraising efforts, too. Without you all, we wouldn’t be standing where we are today. 

If you want to learn more about how you can get involved or invest in our work, head to our How can I help? page.

More stories