DZN Hilfsorganisation (Rooftop Tent Nomads Aid Organization)
The organisation DZN Hilfsorganisation (= Rooftop Tent Nomads Aid Organization) was founded by the existing German group “Rooftop Tent Nomads” (Dachzelt-Normaden). As the name suggests, the Rooftop Tent Nomads are rooftop tent enthusiasts who share their experiences and hobby by organising events with workshops, presentations, and social activities. They regularly raise money for various charities at these events. One of their camps coincided with the floods in Germany in July 2021, so they started a spontaneous collection for the victims of the floods. Uncertain whether donations to large organisations would reach the affected people, the Rooftop Tent Nomads decided to help with the construction themselves. So, they set up a base camp near the affected areas with their campers, cars, and tents, and organised their rebuilding work from there. After the first week of clean-up, the organisers realised that there was still a need for long-term help. So they looked for a place to set up a long-term base camp, planned structures for their camp and their work, put out a call on social media for more helpers, created a registration for volunteers and founded the non-profit limited company “DZN Hilfsorganisation”.
Their mission is to help the people affected by the flood as long as help is needed.
Their slogan is “It’s the WE that counts!” and accordingly there is a strong focus on the group and a good together.
Be sustainable. From the very self-sufficient community they have grown from, they try to make everything they do as environmentally friendly as possible.
After the first week of clean-up, the organisers realised that there was still a need for long-term help. So they looked for a place to set up a long-term base camp, planned structures for their camp and their work, put out a call on social media for more helpers, created a registration for volunteers and founded the non-profit limited company “DZN Hilfsorganisation”. To enable a large-scale relief operation, they have structured and formalised their volunteers and tasks. The base camp had its own kitchen and workshop where tools could be repaired for use. The two main founders are at the head of the group, connecting and structuring the other parts. They have teams and people in charge of finance and fundraising, communications, site management, camp and storage, marketing, and cooking. The basecamp had its own kitchen and a workshop where tools could be repaired for use. For the flood in Slovenia in August 2023, donations of money and tools were collected and aid transports to local organisations were carried out. After a review of the situation, a decision will be made on possible further aid.
The organisation was born out of a group of people with a common interest in rooftop tents. A Facebook group for those interested quickly developed into a community. The rapidly growing group began to organise events such as camps with a shared programme. The main theme was their enthusiasm for rooftop tents, but they also raised money for various charities and emphasised environmentally friendly behaviour.
They had a camp in July 2021, when there were the severe floods in other parts of Germany at the same time. Their motivation to help themselves, but also their doubts about whether donations to large organisations would really reach those affected effectively, led them to actively help after the flood. They responded to the large number of people affected, the widespread destruction of infrastructure and homes that could not be immediately repaired by the official offers of aid. They also helped people who did not have enough money or could not find professionals to repair their homes.
Being able to camp on site made them more independent, flexible and self-sufficient – an advantage that other formal and informal responders did not have. This meant that they didn’t have to be transported to the affected areas or block the routes of official helpers – a problem for other informal volunteers. They also did not take up any of the hotels and shelters, of which there were few, that were needed by the victims and other aid workers.