Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Online and offline campaign

The campaign “Crossroads – Stories of Migration” was launched online as a 12-day campaign. The offline campaign was held on 21 September, International Day of Peace, targeting people from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia who have experienced migration due to various reasons: political, social or economic reasons, studies, war, etc; but also those who moved to the country for any other reason.

  • Online campaign (28 May – 8 June 2018)

The online campaign was launched at the end of May 2018 and it consisted of collecting stories of migration that we hoped would portray a picture of the different situations that people have found themselves in, the different motivations for migration and the different experiences they have faced. The participants were asked to write their stories under a pseudonym and state their age/sex/nationality, because we believe that when the reader reads their story, it is much easier for them to connect with a person of the same sex/age/nationality and at the same time they might be more eager to empathise with that person. The survey was shared in English, Macedonian and Albanian as the two spoken languages in the country and the following questions served as guidelines for the participants to depict their stories better:

  • Whose is the story you want to share with us (mine, of an acquaintance, of a relative, of a friend)?
  • What is the reason behind your/their migration?
  • How did you/they decide to take this big step?
  • What kind of obstacles did you/they face during the migration?
  • Did you/they feel accepted by the citizens of that country and why do you think so?
  • Where are you/they now and do you/they think that you/they have made the right step by migrating?
  • Your advice to all who are thinking about migrating

With this being accomplished, we succeeded in creating a small collection of 19 stories by people who have been on the crossroad of their life where they had to make the decision to move to another country in quest for a better life. The online campaign involved 21 people who shared their personal stories and 2,375 people whom the online campaign reached. The age of the participants varied from 22 to 76 years old, male and female. There were no complications or misunderstandings in communicating the message of the campaign and, as we could see from the outcome, people were candid when sharing the stories, but the interest to share personal details was not very big. We assume that this may have been due to the summer holidays that had just started but also because of the emotional unavailability of the people and their unwillingness to go over the experience again, in case it was a traumatic one. The collection of stories was disseminated online and offline during the offline campaign event.

  • Offline campaign (21 September 2018)

The offline campaign was held on 21 September 2018, which was symbolically proclaimed as the International Peace Day by the United Nations. In total 22 people, aged between 10 and 38, attended the event. The attendees were mainly young people, students, unemployed people, unorganised and organised youth.

The campaign was created with the main aim of raising awareness of the importance of combatting hate speech and the propaganda against refugees, as well as making the locals aware of the hardships that refugees are going through and the importance of supporting their integration.

The event lasted for two hours and consisted of a short presentation of the project and its outcomes on a local and national level, accompanied by information on the refugee situation in the country; the official launching of two educational videos, followed by a discussion of their importance and comments on their usefulness; a presentation and discussion on hate speech and how it is tackled in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (definition of terms, how it is regulated within the legal framework of the country, what the mechanisms that the country uses to detect it are, reported cases on hate speech/crime in regards to the refugees); and it was closed with an informal meeting over a small cocktail, sharing No-Hate-cookies with messages on peace, tolerance and human rights, playing board games designed to follow the journey of refugees, and an exhibition of photos taken at the transit centre Tabanovce.

Throughout the whole event, the participants had the opportunity to take photos with the No-Hate-hearts, which were created in several languages that are present at national level (Albanian, English, Macedonian and Turkish), and spread their message against hate. The event created a safe space for the interested locals so they could get familiarised with the refugee situation in the country as well as how hate speech affects it. They felt free to ask and share information about their prejudice and knowledge that they got mainly from the media, but also to give their own overview on how it would affect the condition of the country in general. Playing the game, the participants stated that it was very complicated and that it would take days for them to figure out how to even play it. What they said clearly demonstrates how difficult the journey of a refugee is and the numerous obstacles that they need to cross in order to find a better future. Everyone was very delighted with the sweets with No-Hate-messages and shared photos of them on their personal profiles, acting this way as multipliers of the general message against hate.