Dear Resident of The Hague,

This is an invitation to share your stories of solidarity and mutual support during and in the aftermath of the Covid-19 Pandemic

With the difficult stage of the Covid-19 pandemic lock-down behind us, we are finally able to take stock of the many stories of solidarity and support circulating in the city of the Hague. What we noticed, however, is a marked absence or misrepresentation of certain stories. We want to do something about that with your help.

What do we want to do?

With the help of community centers and community organizations in The Hague, we want to collect stories of solidarity and support during Covid-19. We want to collect these stories to make the story landscape of the city more inclusive, but also to share with each other and celebrate what we have overcome. Lastly, we want to involve young people in this process so they can learn about the power of the community as well.

How you can help us?

We are looking for people who are willing to share their experiences by means of sharing short stories via video. You can share your stories in your own language.

We are also looking for people who would like to be trained and serve as an official storyteller at one of the community storytelling gatherings we will be organizing.

How can you share your stories of solidarity with us?

You can contribute in two ways:

  1. If you are interested just in sharing a solidarity or mutual support story about what you

    experienced or observed in your neighborhood, send us a message via SMS (preferably) or WhatsApp to the following local number: 06 216 10 099.

  2. If you would like to be a storyteller also send us a message via SMS (preferably) or WhatsApp to the following local number 06 216 10 099.

We care for your privacy so this local number is exclusively dedicated to receiving messages for this project and only the involved 2 coordinators and 2 project assistants will have access to your details.

Your contribution is important because….

During the pandemic, everyday stories of solidarity by members of communities across the City of The Hague were shared in social media displaying resilience, adaptation, and solidarity in the negotiation of the new conditions brought by Covid-19.

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However, the stories of some communities were not shown as frequently or were put in a negative light, such as the ignoring of rules. Yet, stories ranging from businesses providing free meals, to community volunteers and concerned family members, did indeed exist.

We want to collect your stories of solidarity and mutual support to expand the story-scape in the City of The Hague and learn from the wisdom of your untold stories. This is about contributing our wisdom to the bigger story of The Hague and about teaching our young people about the power of community.

We will use the tradition of communal storytelling to share stories of solidarity with each other to inspire and empower each other. We also want to learn from community centers and organizations about their efforts and challenges in the promotion of solidarity and support in their communities in The Hague. We want to understand the role that the internet has had in forging and maintaining bonds of solidarity. We have design students from The Hague University of Applied Sciences who will design an object of support for the community center that will be inspired and informed by the members of the community.

How are we going to work?

We are connecting with The Hague residents through respective community centers and organizations and introducing them to the concept of story sharing as a means of reflecting on this Covid-19 experience.

Story sharing and interviews (via on-line platforms) will take place with you and other residents of the city about your experiences of solidarity.

We will also speak with city officials and research the city on-line archives on how solidarity and support has been promoted in the city.

Students will visit the centers and will engage community members and staff to gain a better understanding of their experience with the Corona virus.

What are we going to do with your stories?

We plan to collect as many stories as possible and share short, edited snippets of collected wisdom stories online and via social media. We will create a short documentary (less than 5 minutes) that can be shared on social media including the city of The Hague Municipality official Facebook page.
We also plan to write two academic articles, one in which we reflect about the ways we engaged with you to collect your stories and a second one to reflect about the main themes, concerns and lessons learnt for the future of our city.

With some of these stories we will create fictional representational stories and recruit and train community members who will be the storytellers of these fictional stories during storytelling evenings at the community centers. We are also working with design students to create an object for participating community centers that will be of help in a future health or crisis experience.

How you can share your story?

Please, send us a message (SMS or whatsapp) to the local number: 06 216 10 099. One of us will text you back to organize a telephone appointment.

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During the telephone conversation, we will explain further how we can collect your story, why we prefer anonymised stories to minimise any privacy risk and ask for your written consent with a specially designed form which you can send back to us. We will help you with that.

Why will we ask for written consent?

Written consent is important because you will be sharing your story with us and the world ultimately, and we want to make sure that you tell us exactly what you want to share with us and how. For example, would you like your name and face to be shown or not?

How your story will be stored?

Your story will be stored safely and privately on a database at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and only available for educational and research purposes.

Who are we?
We are a group of four women who work in/with universities and cultural institutions.

Aminata Cairo: I am of Surinamese descent, was born and raised in the Netherlands but became an American citizen. I have a Ph.D. in anthropology and prefer to use my academic skills to positively contribute to communities. I have worked as the first (black) lector of Inclusive Education and continue now as an independent researcher dedicated to use my work to promote the idea that all stories are valid. I am fluent in English and Dutch.

Rosalba Icaza: I am originally from Mexico and a resident of the Hague since 2007. I work as a teacher at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS), which although is based in the Hague, it is part of Erasmus University of Rotterdam. I specialize in the strength and power of stories, especially the stories of women. I speak some Dutch and French, I can also speak English, and my mother tongue is Spanish.

Umbreen Salim: I am a PhD researcher at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University, Rotterdam. I am originally from Pakistan and have been residing in the Hague since 2012. I speak Urdu, Punjabi and English languages. I am very much interested in storytelling and spending time with different communities.

Steven Asei-Dantoni: My background is business, but my greatest passion is creative education. My family is from Cameroon, but I grew up in France. I have lived and worked in many countries and speak several languages. I speak a little bit of Dutch, but it keeps getting better. I am passionate about working with children and parents and use stories to get the best out of my students. In the Netherlands I worked as a guest lecturer at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and Leiden University College, but now I work as a developer of innovative education.

Who is sponsoring this project?

We are supported by the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), which is part of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Further information or questions

If at any time or for any reason you wish to contact the Principal Investigators, please contact Aminata Cairo (Dutch, English) or Rosalba Icaza (English, Spanish) via your preferred means below.


Thanking you for your kind consideration of our invitation,

Aminata Cairo
Aminata Cairo Consultancy mob: +31 6 216 10 099

Rosalba Icaza
Associate Professor of Global Politics, Gender and Diversity Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University
mob: +31 639558500
twitter: @icazarosalba