The Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organisation was formed in 1992 as a public organisationin Hungary but it is also recognized by the UN and the African Union. We work mainly on the protection of refugees and assylum seekers. We also work on raising awarness to the issues these groups are facing and educating the Hungarian public on tolerance and diversity.
1.General and Human rights protection programs
1.1 Legal Counselling
Our experts offer free administrative law aid every month to approximately 120 people through obtaining refugee list’s, residency permits, preparing for school and in obtaining work. In the relation to the legal counsel offered as needs arise every month we submit approximately 30 to 40 appeals, like this at a yearly rate we offer help to nearly 155 people and in almost 500 cases we represent the people in help. On press of appeal we take part in the set court hearing, and we try our best, if the person requiring help, only understands clearly in his/her own language the thing being discussed, we provide a translator.
Frequently in the course of refugee proceedings they will listen to someone in English, and even and the thing presented by the court exactly. That’s why it is needed to provide a translator, who is an expert in the legal terms, as well as their mother tongue.
1.2 Helping and visiting people in Refugee Camps and Convicts in Prison
Our organisation has had a contract with the headquarters of country law enforcement since 1996. As part of the contract our lawyers and colleagues often visit the penal institutions (prisons). For the convicts and inhabitants there, we do several things, we offer legal advice, we hold visiting hours, send packages, provide foreign language books and other reading materials, hold programs, keep the relationship up with their families and during the course of their detention period, we try our best to obtain validity for their International Human Rights documents recommendation.
In the same manner our lawyers and colleagues often visit foreign citizens the refugee camps and border guard camps, and we ensure that the safe guard in all aspects are legal.
We listen to complaints of the detainee, and we help them as much as we can. If the person in question needs to go to the court, and the case has not closed, then they can contact us, or if the person in question receives new data or information, then our authorities help him start a new trial. Three times a month we visit the refugee camps, and the prisons.
1.3 Information Publications
The Ministry of the Interior part of the Immigration and Civil Office people can get free publications and also get informed of their rights and opportunities.
Human Rights Reconciliation with our partners our organisation takes part in conferences where different, for example the gypsy legal aid organisation meets with us. Through this our goals lie with them for a forming of a patter of common work. We stand against racial discrimination in every form, and as long as the BV institute turns back to us for complaints of the gypsy people, we hear and try our best to solve those problems, and as needed we direct them to the competent legal aid organisation.
Our starting programs for the refugees make it possible for the people getting out of camp are more exempt of the shock when integrated with families. We need to educate them on the minimum competencies of obtaining work and fitting into society. In 2006 we wish to continue and amplify our participants, which have already been trained.
2.1Computer Technology training
In 2005 the organisation started more on location beginner computer service and interface courses. In the Budapest Pesti Barnabás Middle school more then 40 people took part in the beginner and intermediate intensive courses. Those people who do not speak Hungarian or have any computer skills have the opportunity to be in the beginning course and to those who need a translator we provide one. In the other course however those who already have a common knowledge of computer use and speak Hungarian. The second part of the training was carried out with support from the Foundation for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights with participation of the inhabitants of the Békéscsaba refugee camp between July and October 2005.
2.2 Hungarian Language Instruction
In 2006 we want to commence the Hungarian language-teaching program we had been planning in previous years. It is essential for people settling in Hungary that they be able to communicate with the local population. Unfortunately only a negligible ratio of the Hungarian populations speaks foreign languages. Even those with an excellent command of English thus find themselves in a difficult situation. It is pivotal for people who wish to settle in Hungary to be able communicate in Hungarian.
3.Programs to promote tolerance and social integrations
Our organisation places considerable emphasis on promoting tolerance and social integration. To facilitate awareness and acceptance we approach this task from a variety of perspectives, drawing on diverse means to accomplish our goal. We organize educational projects at schools for the younger and still open-minded generation, while offering cultural, sports and public education programs to catch attention of their elders. We believe that acceptance begins with getting acquainted and, accordingly, we devote most of our energy to public education campaigns.
3.1 Programs to promote tolerance among students
We deem it important that we get school children interested in other cultures from the earliest possible age, thereby contributing to the emergence of a multicultural society. With this goal in mind, we created in 2004 a Tolerance Program for youth – a public education campaign in the course of which we have given lectures to 300 elementary and high school students each month about African culture and human rights.
In its first year, schools in Hajdú-Bihar and Szolnok County participated. In the second, we selected 10 Budapest secondary schools for tolerance education.
In 2006 we would like - in addition to the already participating schools - to involve more schools and youth bureaus in both Budapest and the countryside. In its first two years, we followed up cultural presentations and lectures with surveys to assess the openness and level of prejudice of participating students.
In 2006, while retaining the program’s basic elements, we are striving to motivate schools to help in the process of getting mutually acquainted. In the course of the program, by presenting Hungarian culture, and our Organisation presenting African culture, we can achieve a level of mutual respect and acceptance that will hopefully be incorporated into student’s thinking.
3.2 Sport programs – The African Stars football team and the “Football against racism” campaign
The international language of sport is one of the most effective means with which to overcome communication difficulties among different nations. In the light of this, we have designed several programs to promote tolerance by using sport as a means to accomplish this end.
Established in 1994, the African Stars football team includes refugees, and foreigners. The team participated several tournaments, friendly matches and winning a number of prizes.
African Stars players have joined the international “Football Against Racism” program and in July 2004 were invited to play at the World Cup Against Racism in Italy.
The “Football Against Racism” flier campaign we launched in 2002 is closely attached to our sport activities.
3.3 Cultural and public education programs
We wish to educate the broadest possible segment of the Hungarian population and people from other cultures about the importance of respecting each others’ customs and values, and the way we live together. To this end, besides our own programs, we also attend festivals and trainings that help us accomplish our goals.
3.3.1 Our own Africa Festival
We have organised since August 1994 our annual Africa festival, whose primary goal is to promote the emergence of tolerance of Hungary.
Each year we have invited several African ensembles, such as Sankofa and Black feeling. People attending our festivals can hear lectures on contemporary African society and culture. We also organise seminars with distinguished speakers for which we receive professional assistance from ELTE University’s African Studies department.
Besides music, we offer film and African fashion shows, through which we have striven to promote tolerance towards the idea of an inter- and multicultural society.
3.3.2 Presentation at cultural events and trainings
Since 1997 we have attended Budapest’s “Sziget Fesztivál” almost every year, where our organisation has had a booth at the “Civil falu” (Civic Village) to present its work to young people attending the Festival. Her we have conducted opinion surveys and round-table conversation with invited experts.
We have also attended the International Tolerance Day event with a cultural offering.
In 2005, we have offered a “Sport and racism” human rights seminar at the Central European University.