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Counter-narratives - HOW TO?

Hello from a lovely village of Norg, Netherlands - This team was busy with working on the counter and alternative narratives against hate speech this week.

This is our second meeting, we already met in Georgia and got training on creating the counter and alternative narratives. After that, we had 7 weeks to make some waves on the local level and we meet again in the Netherlands.

We were welcomed by warm hosts and cosy working venue. So our work went pretty casual but productive. During the week we reviewed the whole process, we looked back, evaluated our projects, gave each other feedback, and brought everything down to recommendations for other youth workers and activists who want to create counter-narratives against hate speech.

Andreia BESSA from CAAT Projects, Netherlands

Andreia was hosting the event with two other colleagues, she was one of the trainers. Here's something she wants to tell other activists: "The world changes fast and we need to be prepared to identify the narratives that contradict human rights in order to act efficiently. Thus, it was a pleasure to work with this motivated group that was ready to challenge themselves and deeply reflect on our realities and the structural injustices.

It is important to be open to identify our own bias, stereotypes and prejudices. It is important to reflect on the division of “us” versus “them”, understand how this is instrumentalized and avoid the use of language that helps to create a division between diverse groups. We have managed to boost the level of empathy and respect in the group, now we have to multiply it to our communities. I am sure We CAN!"

Here are some Do's and Don'ts - tips for activists and youth workers who want to create a counter and alternative narratives with young people:


  • Be informed about the topic, Research the topic before you start your plan

  • Research and Prepare to Analise the Oppressive Narratives before you begin working with the group

  • Be realistic with the resources you have, space your plan to use, your time management, finances available, tools you plan to use, the ability of your working group, your own abilities and competencies;

  • Clarify with Who, Why, What you want to do;

  • Invest in a core group who will be dedicated to implementing the CANs;

  • Start out with a pilot project to test every step of your CAN;

  • Use a Step-by-Step approach from We CAN Manual;

  • Be focused on the topic and context;

  • Check successful campaigns; find appropriate examples online, books or research papers; but use the relative examples to work on for your country, for your situation, for the group

  • Ask brave questions;

  • Evaluate Process of learning of the working group on a daily basis and by the end;


  • Rush with the project;

  • Overcomplicate the project;

  • Procrastinate;

  • Respond with an attack;

  • Give up after failure, when plans don’t work out, after negative judgement;

  • Burn out from workload, emotional investment and stress;

  • Be afraid to ask for help;

  • Overestimate or Underestimate your group.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the project and of course to the donor - Nederlands Jeugdinstituut - Erasmus+ National Agency in the Netherlands.

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