Danja Overgaag, Co-initiator of Nederland Bedankt

It all started during the first corona wave. All of us were at home and I was writing my thesis at the time. I have a 90 year old grandmother that has a lot of family. She is always busy and still lives by herself and suddenly nobody could come by anymore. Alongside my thesis I started a project with which I wanted to remind people to not only keep in touch with the more lonely elderly but also with the ones that do in fact have a strong social network. Since these elderly are not able to rely on those social networks during the lockdowns. As I was doing that I met Julien who was working on the ‘Samen Sterk’ flag. The profit was donated to ‘Artsen zonder grenzen’ and it was immensely popular.

But I wanted more. I just felt that the whole corona situation was something that I wanted to act upon. But I wasn’t sure how. Everyone was sitting at home behind their desk because that is what is asked from you. You’re supposed to not meet friends and attend parties. You can clap for people in healthcare and that’s that. Also I was afraid. I was scrolling through the news app a lot waiting for things to happen. At some point I got so fed up with all the negativity that I deleted the app. I didn’t look at any news articles for four to five months.

So Julien called me up and we decided that we wanted to set us up for positivity. At first we could get our hands on a few hotel nights that we wanted to give to the elderly just to show them some support. A little in the spirit of the bestseller ‘De Meeste Mensen Deugen’ by Rutger Bregman. But we figured that there were so many more people to be grateful for. So in 45 minutes we came up with the idea of Nederland Bedankt. There are so many empty hotel rooms and so many people in practically every part of society to thank for their hard work during the pandemic. These positive stories needed to be bundled so we settled on a book.

Our people worked day and night, collecting, recording and photographing the people and the stories. As I read the stories I was so touched by many of them. These people just deserve a place to tell their stories. The stories are extremely inspiring and you’ll be amazed about how helpful we have been to one another. I just think that the book deserves all the publicity because it’s the stories about the people that helped, that need to be shared.

© Kevin Kwee

The thing is that if you engage with other people in a positive way and you start doing things, people give so much positivity in return. If you look at all these stories of people that helped others during the pandemic it really fuels something. We all can learn a lot from this positivity. So I invite you to take a look at the book. To me the stories are a big source of inspiration and I also hope to inspire others by sharing the stories. ‘

© Kevin Kwee

The pandemic and the current turbulent times are history happening in front of us. It has been tough for everyone. Danja Overgaag, an immensely energetic and positve soul got fed up with all the focus on the negativity that she decided to look for the positivity within the negativity. Together with her companion Julien she asked herself the question: ‘What would we like to remember the pandemic by? is it the positive or the negative?’ and they came to the conclusion that the pandemic needed to be remembered by the people that helped one another out. Our marketing manager Darius Barsony was fortunate to get a little of Danja’s time to interview her about the process of setting up Nederland Bedankt.

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