The Human-Etisk Forbund (HEF) open meeting on Wednesday 22nd of March was about Humanistisk Aksjon for Menneskerettigheter i Utviklingsland (HAMU), aka Humanist Action for Human Rights in Developing Countries. Levi Fragell, who established HAMU, spoke about itsbeginnings and principles before Gunnar Olafsen, a HAMU representative, presented some of their current projects.
A branch of HEF, HAMU is a non-governmental organisation that operates on the basis of humanist values, with the aims of promoting human rights for the oppressed and to help them lead a more dignified life. Since 1993, HAMU has worked closely with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Bistandstorget and Innsamlingskontrollen to support local, secular, non-profit NGOs in India, Nepal, Brazil, Uganda and Nigeria. HAMU provides protection, education and vocational training to some of the most vulnerable people in those countries whilst advocating human dignity, pluralism and democracy.
Protecting and empowering women and children is a strong focus of HAMUs projects, as they are the most vulnerable groups and often bear the brunt of oppressive cultures, religions and traditions. I put together a Prezi to give a quick overview of the amazing projects HAMU support across the world.
Those of you who can read Norwegian can follow their on-going activities on the HAMU blog.
The Q&A session following the presentations centred on the long-term actions and purpose of HAMU. Due to funding constraints, projects are necessarily finite, which means planning an exit strategy in many places where the problem remains unsolved, perhaps because of powerful reactionary forces. Gunnar Olafsen conceded that this would be difficult, but stressed that HAMU were working hard on solutions. Since its inception, the philosophy of HAMU has not been simply triage, but to bring about long-term change to damaging societal attitudes, which is why education is such an important focus.
HAMU is an example of the practical manifestation of a grounded, human-centred philosophy that compels us to do good for the sake of goodness and to help those in need, with absolute disregard for their creed, colour or faith. It goes without saying that they, indeed all secular NGOs the world over, need all the help they can get, both in terms of finance and exposure.
It’s a little old school, granted, but you can support HAMU by using your local or internet bank to transfer your contribution to:
Swift Code: DNBAOKK
IBAN Account: NO9242800530002